Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A year after winning 101 games, the New York Mets crashed back down to Earth faster than a wayward Toyota on the Grand Central Parkway. The once popular Buck Showalter was shown the door, a new manager was brought in, and the offseason was relatively quiet by Steve Cohen standards.

Brand new owner, same old Mets.

Except unlike other Mets offseasons, the 2023 winter was anything but passive. New York was proactive, shuffling its front office and dugout for a brand new look. Former Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza has a clean slate and long leash.

This doesn’t mean the Mets will make the playoffs in 2024, far from it. The Braves and Phillies are too stacked from top to bottom. The New York Mets, unfortunately, still have some holes to fill.

But given who’s in charge now? The next great era of Mets baseball may finally be upon us.

Greatest Addition: David Stearns. It was never a matter of if the Mets would hire Stearns, but when. Cohen made it official and named the former Brewers executive his new president of baseball operations on October 2, one day after the season ended. Cue the real work.

Needless to say, this could prove to be a home run hire for the New York Mets. It certainly is on paper. Stearns was given a Costco card in Milwaukee instead of an actual budget, and thus oversaw the rise of one of baseball’s strongest farm systems. What the Brewers lacked in money they made up for in player development tenfold.

Stearns now has a high mountain to climb. Does he trust the current crop of Mets prospects scouted under the old regime, or blow it up and do it on his own? The fans are restless, so he’ll have to move quickly no matter what he decides. But knowing Stearns’ track record, the results will be worth the wait.

Greatest Loss: Ronny Mauricio. Losses don’t just happen in trades or free agency. Sometimes, they literally hurt (And badly!). Mauricio was expected to be the Mets’ primary second baseman after batting .292 with 23 home runs and an .852 OPS at Triple-A Syracuse. He hit .248 with a pair of homers in 26 games with the big league club near the end of the season before heading to play in the Dominican Winter League against the Mets’ wishes.

Eight games in, the worst case scenario happened. Mauricio, who was playing out of pure financial necessity, tore his ACL on the basepaths. He is out for the season. What’s worse is Mauricio was batting .441 and already doing a better job avoiding strikeouts. He’s about to turn 23 and lose a year of development.

In the meantime, the Mets will roll with Jeff McNeill as the full-time second baseman.

Greatest Strength: Pete Alonso. There is no doubt that Alonso is the heartbeat of the New York Mets. He is their forever 7 Train that always runs smoothly, no delays, not even at Queensboro Plaza! He already has 192 home runs in his short five-year career, and would probably be closer to 300 if not for the shortened 2020 season. At 29, he’s entering the real prime of his career.

The Mets’ fearless leader will be tested this season. It’s his contract year and there have been no extension talks. He batted a career-worst .217 in 2023, but can easily command $30 million a year or more. And the Mets are already paying what’s left on both Scherzer and Verlander’s deals, plus Francisco Lindor has eight years and $256 million left on his.

We will soon see the true power of Uncle Steve’s checkbook. Will he pay the man who brings fans to Citi Field, or will the Polar Bear take the plunge and pay elsewhere in 2025?

Greatest Weakness: Pitching. Trading two future Hall of Famers in Verlander and Scherzer came at a pretty serious cost to the Mets. Their pitching staff, which ranked 19th with a 4.31 ERA last year, isn’t any better. Luis Severino and Sean Manaea aren’t so much upgrades as they are mid-to-low tier lateral moves. There’s certainly upside, especially given Severino’s stellar 1.29 ERA in four spring starts, but pitching won’t carry these Mets.

Losing ace-by-default Kodai Senga early in camp doesn’t help either. He’s throwing again and could be back in late May, but Jose Quintana starting on Opening Day says it all. Prospect Christian Scott has promise, but Stearns still has his work cut out for him rebuilding this staff.

How long a season will it be for the New York Mets? Hopefully, not too long! The good news for the Mets is that they should still win more than 75 games this year, especially with J.D. Martinez now in the fold. We should also expect a bounceback from Alonso.

And who knows? Maybe Mendoza will prove an Alex Cora/David Bell type and the Mets will punch above their weight all year. The Marlins overachieved to a Wild Card last year, and so can the Mets in ’24.

Except they’ll probably fall just short, as the Mets are sadly wont to do. Atlanta and Philly control the NL East race. The NL West is suddenly as competitive as the AL East. None of that makes the Mets’ path to October easier.

Barring a surprise run and/or Stearns pulling off a sneaky trade at the deadline, expect another cruel summer in Queens.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.