The Mets won 97 games, tied with the Yankees for the best in the major leagues, and their season ended with the bases loaded and winning run on base in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.
"We only came within a couple of runs of winning the National League," third baseman David Wright
said. "We learned a lot this year. We've made a lot of progress, and our goal next year is to win the World Series."
The Mets got this far with a combination of power -- 3-4-5 hitters Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Wright each drove in more than 100 runs -- and the National League's best bullpen.
The Mets were a superbly balanced team this season and had the good fortune of having non-descript pitchers John Maine, Oliver Perez and Dave Williams pick up the slack when Pedro Martinez spent two one-month stints on the disabled list, Brian Bannister was lost for the season with a hamstring injury, and Tom Glavine went a month without a victory.
With the expected departure of Steve Trachsel and the uncertainty of Glavine's return, Maine, Perez, Williams, Bannister and prospects Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber will compete for rotation spots in spring training.
Still, the Mets figure to make a play for a veteran arm.
"I've been probably looking at potential free agents now since August," general manager Omar Minaya said. "We're pretty much focusing on guys we want and who we are going to go after."
The bullpen was a strength but faces an overhaul because the contracts are up for Chad Bradford, Roberto Hernandez, Guillermo Mota and Darren Oliver.
If not them, then the Mets have to get somebody.
There are two position holes: second base and left field.
Jose Valentin came off the bench to replace Kaz Matsui at second and had a strong season, but the Mets must decide if it was for real or a fluke.
Left fielder Cliff Floyd's $6.5 million contract is up, and he'll undergo surgery on a strained left Achilles tendon and won't be ready until February.
In the interim, Minaya said he's not comfortable yet handing the position to either Endy Chavez or prospect Lastings Milledge.
Another offseason issue will be reliever Aaron Heilman, who has been productive in his role but wants to be a starter. With his value high, this might be the time to deal him.
GM Omar Minaya said one of the offseason priorities is to sign manager Willie Randolph to a contract extension. Minaya does not want Randolph's contractual status to become an issue next season.
Third base coach Manny Acta interviewed for the Texas Rangers managerial position and also will speak with San Francisco and Washington. GM Omar Minaya said the Mets have a backup plan in place should Acta be hired by one of those teams.
LHP Tom Glavine is expected to talk about his future sometime next week with Mets VP Jeff Wilpon and GM Omar Minaya. The Mets want him back, but Glavine's family wants him to finish his career at home in Atlanta. Glavine said the Mets and Braves are the only teams he's considering. "I know what I have here," Glavine said. "I don't need anyone to sell me on it."
LF Cliff Floyd will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a strained left Achilles tendon and faces a four-month recovery period. He is not expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
C Paul Lo Duca will have surgery to repair damaged ligaments to his left thumb. The injury affected Lo Duca more defensively than at the plate.
SS Chris Woodward will have surgery on his left shoulder. A free agent, Woodward was valuable in a utility role, able to play anywhere in the infield and left field.
BY THE NUMBERS: .208 -- Mets' average with runners in scoring position in the NLCS against St. Louis. The Mets were outscored 28-27 in the seven-game series.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "People who say you have to swing at that are people who never played the game, who never stood in the batter's box and faced a 90-plus-miles-per-hour fastball, then had the guy throw a curve," -- GM Omar Minaya on CF Carlos Beltran taking a called third strike to end Game 7 of the NLCS vs. St. Louis.