Bold Predictions for Spring Training and Odds Each Comes True
Spring training has now officially begun for each MLB team. While veterans assured of jobs take the time to get their timing down, build up stamina and prepare for the rigors of a 162-game schedule, fringe players use the upcoming six weeks to convince coaches they're ready to take the next step.
There is also still time time for transactions as teams look to finalize their rosters and make tweaks that can give them an upper hand.
Cactus and Grapefruit League games are still over a week away, so we'll take some time to make some predictions and present the odds that each prediction will actually come to fruition.
The predictions only take into account what could happen by the end of spring training.
The Arizona Diamondbacks Ship Didi Gregorious to the Minors
The Arizona Diamondbacks revamped the left side of their infield this offseason. Martin Prado will man third base every day—that's a given.
But at shortstop, it comes down to two players—Cliff Pennington, who hit just .215 last year and carries a .249 career average, and Didi Gregorius, who hit .265 in five minor league seasons and hit .300 in a September callup last year with the Cincinnati Reds.
At 22 years of age, Gregorius is thought to be the future at short for the Diamondbacks.
That future will not start come Opening Day.
Gregorius is considered stellar defensively, but the bat brings major concerns. With only 48 games at the Triple-A level, his bat likely still isn't quite ready for major-league pitching.
Odds of this prediction happening: 40 percent.
If the Diamondbacks are serious about Gregorius being the future everyday shortstop, the last thing they'll do is rush him. A slow spring start sees him sent down to Reno.
Mariano Rivera Will Announce His Retirement Before Opening Day
On Wednesday, pitchers and catchers for the New York Yankees held their first workouts in Tampa. Legendary closer Mariano Rivera was of course on hand, coming back for one season after seeing his 2012 season end on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City in early May.
Rivera had no restrictions as he went through his paces, throwing off a mound, fielding grounders and participating in various drills.
Of course, Rivera was asked the retirement question and if he has made a decision.
'Yes, I have,'' Rivera said. ''But again, I will tell you guys when I think it's the right moment.''
Rivera indicated the right moment would come sometime between now and Opening Day.
Rivera will in fact retire.
Odds of this prediction happening: 60 percent.
Rivera has nothing left to prove. No matter what happens in 2013, he will go down as the greatest closer in the history of the game and as one of the greatest clutch pitchers the game has ever seen.
Jered Weaver's Shoulder Will Become a Concern This Spring
The Los Angeles Angels started work on their new season at Tempe Diablo Stadium this week. Armed with three new starters, two new relievers and a svelte-looking Josh Hamilton, there are high hopes for an Angels team that has failed to make the postseason for three consecutive years.
Ace Jered Weaver is expected to once again lead the way as the ace in the rotation. Last year, Weaver won 20 games for the first time in his career but also experienced shoulder pain on two separate occasions.
At some point this spring, it's entirely possible that Angels camp becomes disrupted with the news that Weaver's shoulder is once again acting up.
Odds of this prediction happening: 2 percent.
I have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that suggests anything is wrong with Weaver's shoulder at all. It's simply a "bold" and out-there prediction.
Kyle Lohse Will Sign with the Los Angeles Angels
Throughout much of the early offseason, Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto repeatedly said that he was very happy with the current group of position players.
On Dec. 12, Dipoto was asked about any additional moves the Angels might make. He said at the time that nothing was "imminent."
He announced the signing of star outfielder Josh Hamilton the following day.
In January, Dipoto was asked if he was monitoring the pitching market.
“Not at all,” Dipoto told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “We are committed to the five starters. I’d take it a step further, with the five we have, plus Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards, even with Jo-Jo Reyes going to Korea, we have 60 (major league) starts among the next wave of starters that will protect us.”
Odds of this prediction happening: Five percent
The odds would be significantly higher if my earlier prediction regarding Jered Weaver actually comes true.
Brian Wilson Re-Signs with San Francisco Giants
So far, the market for bearded closer Brian Wilson has been non-existent.
Wilson held a private workout for the New York Mets last month, yet the Mets were not prepared to offer Wilson a deal after walking away unimpressed.
Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, missing the entire 2012 season. The San Francisco Giants chose to non-tender Wilson at the end of the year.
At some point this spring, Wilson will re-sign with the Giants.
Odds of this prediction happening: Five percent
When speaking to a group in San Francisco last month, Giants manager Bruce Bochy refused to shut the door on Wilson's possible return.
"I can't say that [Wilson] will be back." Bochy said. "I can't say the door's closed on Brian Wilson. ... I don't think that's completely shut."
Bruce Rondon Will Not Be the Detroit Tigers Closer on Opening Day
The Detroit Tigers said good-bye to closer Jose Valverde after he famously imploded during last year's postseason.
While rumors swirled about the possibility of Rafael Soriano signing in Detroit, general manager Dave Dombrowski repeatedly quashed speculation.
Dombrowksi indicated the Tigers had every intention of giving prospect Bruce Rondon the opportunity to become the closer.
"This guy is a special potential closer with the makeup of a closer," Dombrowski said. "Normally you're not going to thrust that in a young guy's hands and say automatically, 'That's your job,' but it would not surprise me if he earned that job."
Rondon posted gaudy numbers last season across three minor league levels, including a 1.53 ERA, 29 saves and a 11.2 K/9 rate.
Odds of this prediction happening: 15 percent.
As much as Rondon seemingly has the closer mentality and the stuff to dominate, controlling that stuff has been an issue.
Rondon has a 5.1 BB/9 in five minor league seasons, including walking seven batters in eight innings of work at the Triple-A level. Rondon will continue to struggle in finding that command this spring.
Trevor Rosenthal Beats out Shelby Miller for Fifth Starter in St. Louis
The St. Louis Cardinals saw last season just what 22-year-old pitching prospect Trevor Rosenthal can do with a baseball.
Making his debut in July, Rosenthal impressed out of the bullpen, posting a 2.78 ERA in 19 appearances.
What Rosenthal did during the postseason was other-worldly.
Rosenthal made seven scoreless appearances in the playoffs, striking out nearly two batters per inning. He surrendered just two hits in 8.2 innings.
Now, with Chris Carpenter's season and career in jeopardy, Rosenthal is thrust into the spotlight in the race to replace Carpenter.
Odds of this prediction happening: 20 percent
Rosenthal will do battle with highly-touted prospect Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly for the No. 5 slot in the rotation. Kelly impressed last year as well, but can also easily transition to long relief. Rosenthal's stuff is simply electric, and his light will shine during spring training.
Tony Cingrani Will Earn Spot in Cincinnati Reds Bullpen
Cincinnati Reds southpaw pitching prospect Tony Cingrani has impressed as a starter in his brief stay in the minors since being drafted out of Rice University in 2011.
Cingrani posted a sterling 1.73 ERA in 25 starts at two levels last year with a 10.6 K/9 rate. He struck out nine batters over five innings in three relief appearances during a September call-up last season as well.
The plan this spring is for Cingrani to continue starting.
"He can always relieve," Reds manager Dusty Baker told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "But he's got to work on his breaking ball to make him a complete pitcher. There aren't many power left-handers around. The ones that are, are very good."
Odds of this prediction happening: 10 percent
Cingrani's repertoire is eerily similar to that of Aroldis Chapman, who is working on transitioning to the starting rotation this spring. Cingrani too has the ability to blow hitters away, and a good left-hander with that ability is too hard to pass up.
Gavin Floyd Will Be Traded by the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Gavin Floyd has been the subject of trade rumors for at least the past year now.
With a salary of $9.5 million this coming season, Floyd is eligible for free agency at the end of the year.
Odds of this prediction happening: Five percent.
The White Sox have Hector Santiago laying in wait. Santiago worked mostly out of the bullpen last season, but looked sharp as a starter, posting a 2-0 record and 1.86 ERA in four starts.
Floyd's value to other teams could well increase as spring training moves along and eventual injuries occur.
Vernon Wells Will Be Traded
The Los Angeles Angels are set with an outfield of Mike Trout in left, Peter Bourjos in center and the newly-acquired Josh Hamilton in right.
That leaves $21 million man Vernon Wells out in the cold.
Wells appeared in just 77 games last year as Mark Trumbo excelled and supplanted Wells in left field. Now, with Kendrys Morales traded to the Seattle Mariners, Trumbo figures to get the bulk of at-bats as the designated hitter, again leaving Wells without a position.
Odds of this prediction happening: 10 percent
The Angels would have to pony up the vast majority of the $42 million remaining on Wells' contract. As spring training marches on, teams could be making calls to general manager Jerry Dipoto to gauge interest.
I just don't see Wells continuing to take up roster space for the Angels, especially if they can somehow get at least some value in return.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.