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Wake Me Up, Before You Zi-to

Barry Zito may be a Texas Ranger yet. Or not. Probably not. Definitely not.

But, I'm warnin' ya, not a second before. So far this off-season the Rangers have added a journeyman spare part, a 39-year-old "stop-gap" center fielder and a reliever who's missed the last two seasons with elbow problems. And if Frank Catalanotto, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne don't have you itching for pitchers and catchers to report for spring training, now comes news that Texas also met with injured pitcher Mark Mulder. Please, move in an orderly fashion. The line for season tickets forms behind me.

The winter could warm up quickly, of course, if the Rangers land former Oakland A's ace Barry Zito. Combine him with Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, and the pitching staff would be in its best shape since the mid-'90s. Lose Zito, however, and we're left to buy into a lineup that includes Lofton, Catalanotto, Nelson Cruz and Brad Wilkkkkkkerson. At this point, the Rangers' only prominent off-season addition is manager Ron Washington. The Rangers may eventually be good. But at this point, they're merely damaged goods. --Richie Whitt


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