Ah, spring … The season of rebirth and optimism, when anything is possible and every baseball team is a contender.

With the Houston Astros dropping the Texas Rangers 8-2 on MLB Opening Day Sunday and the Blue Jays set to open Tuesday against Cleveland at Rogers Centre, it’s time to dive into the 2013 season and make some brash predictions for the summer ahead.

Here are 10 cold, hard locks you can take to the bank.

1. The Toronto Blue Jays will NOT win the World Series.

Big-name teams never win a championship the first season they’re put together – just ask the Miami Heat. R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson will be hard-pressed to meet expectations, Casey Janssen will prove not be the closer the team needs and it will take at least half a year for the infield to figure out how to play together. The Jays will be a wild card contender until the season’s last day, but this team will need to lose together before figuring out how to win together.

2. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, will be your World Series champs.

Led by Canadian Joey Votto as well as Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, the Reds’ batting order is rock solid from top to bottom. They’ve got a competent starting rotation, a strong bullpen, one of the hardest throwers in the game in Aroldis Chapman, and Dusty Baker is one of those managers who can make every intangible a positive. There’s no question the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will have something to say about it, but if the Reds can stay healthy, they should win it all.

3. The Pittsburgh Pirates will finish above .500 for the first time in 21 years.

Think 1992 is an important year to the Blue Jays? It’s even more important to the Pirates. Last season, the Pirates were on pace to finish ahead of .500 before a late-season swoon dashed their hopes. This year, the Pirates will actually contend for a wild card berth – yep, that’s even with A.J. Burnett as their ace.

4. There’s no way Mike Trout can repeat his rookie performance of 2012.

First, pitchers will have a better idea what they’re facing this season. Second, it’s pretty tough to live in the national spotlight at the age of 21. Third, the Angels just forced him to swallow a $480,000 salary instead of re-upping him at something a bit more fair. Why kill yourself for a team that’s screwing you?

5. Jose Reyes, however, will steal 50 bases, score 100 runs and be American League MVP.

Reyes is the most dynamic offensive player to play for the Jays since Roberto Alomar. With power numbers down year after year in the post-steroids era, base-running has become more critical in creating offense, and no one in the American League will match what Reyes does in 2013.

6. The Houston Astros won’t lose 100 games this year.

OK, maybe this is my rotisserie baseball team talking, but there’s no way a team can win 100 games three years in a row, is there? The Astros actually have some decent talent – pitchers Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell could be on any major league team, and Carlos Pena, Chris Carter and Jose Altuve are legitimate players. Sure, the Astros’ entire lineup will earn less than Alex Rodriguez this year, but they’ve got smart looking new uniforms and one of the coolest stadiums in baseball … that’s got to count for something, right?

7. The Miami Marlins, however …

Despite Giancarlo Stanton’s best efforts, the Marlins will lose 100 games, and no one will care. Turning to Groupon to boost ticket sales for their home opener is just the first of many attendance-related embarrassments for the pathetic Marlins this year … yet because of revenue sharing and the fact that taxpayers bought his new stadium, owner Jeffrey Loria will rake in millions of dollars anyways. And as for those optimistic rumours that a fed up Bud Selig will move one of Florida’s teams to Montreal or Vancouver … there’s no chance of that.

8. Speaking of Alex Rodriguez … either he or David Ortiz will be forced to retire after 2013.

A-Rod, now a mess of injuries, aging and fresh steroid allegations, will likely need until September to recover from his latest hip surgery. Ortiz, recovering from surgery on both heels, is expected to be hobbling his creaky, 300-pound frame around the bases again as early as May. Unfortunately, both are 37 years old, both are badly overpaid, and both have nagging injuries that aren’t easy to recover from. At least one of them will be forced to call it a career before 2014.

9. The Atlanta Braves’ outfield will hit 100 homers and steal 80 bases.

Jason Heyward had 27 homers last year, B.J. Upton had 28 and Justin Upton had 31 just two years ago, so 100 isn’t much of a stretch. Provided they’re healthy, the Uptons could easily get 70

steals between them, but don’t forget that Heyward had 21 last year, too. With the best outfield in baseball, look for the Braves to steal the NL East away from the upstart Washington Nationals, prompting fans to call for GM Mike Rizzo’s head for shutting down Stephen Strasburg during last year’s playoff run.

10. Roy Halladay will lose more games than he wins in 2013.

The longtime Blue Jays ace with a 199-100 career record, Halladay was only 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA last year with the Philadelphia Phillies and is finally facing pitching mortality in his 15th major league season. Halladay allowed a whopping 11 earned runs in 16 innings in the spring while fighting off a stomach bug that caused him to lose 10 pounds. The Phillies’ lineup isn’t as intimidating as it once was, so if he duplicates last year’s ERA it’s not a stretch to expect his win-loss record to flip.

Bonus prediction:

The Red Sox will finish dead last in the AL East.

The big question going into the 2013 season is which former powerhouse – the Sox or Yankees – will finish in the basement of baseball’s toughest division. With Jacoby Ellsbury set to be a free agent in the winter, David Ortiz hobbled by bad heels and a dearth of talent on the mound, look for the Sox to start unloading salaries and talent for prospects as early as June, prompting a tidy slide behind the creaky, old Yankees into the East cellar.

So, how’s that “dream job” working out for you, John Farrell?

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