ESPN's Jayson Stark kicks off today's column with a look at which teams' starts he considers reality and illusion. Beyond that, a look at his hot stove rumblings…
- One club official who "felt out" the Padres over the winter believes they'll hold on to their top players if they're in contention in July. As Stark says, the market would look a lot worse without Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell.
- Stark names six sluggers who "might be in play" this summer: Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Rick Ankiel, Paul Konerko, and Manny Ramirez. Hamilton and Manny are longer shots, but they'd certainly get the hot stove burning.
- As for Jose Guillen – executives Stark talked to just aren't interested, despite his .377/.406/.738 start.
- In search of new stadiums, where could the Rays and A's legitimately threaten to move? Stark and his sources run through ideas and can't find a viable city.
- A friend of Cal Ripken's tells Stark "there's a lot of mutual respect" between Ripken and Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Ripken seeks a difference-making job, rather than just a title. It doesn't necessarily have to be with the Orioles.
- The Cubs told Derrek Lee's agent Casey Close they'd prefer to let the season play out before talking extension. Lee discussed the situation during Spring Training.
- Stark's sources consider Brett Anderson's four-year, $12.5MM deal a very team-friendly contract. To the A's credit, most young pitchers are not willing to give two club options. Playing devil's advocate – did the potential cost savings justify committing four years to Anderson after just one year of service? You can find multiple clubs that do not share Oakland's enthusiasm for locking up good young pitchers.