96 Wins? It's Up to You, Josh Hamilton

Last year,

in the midst of camouflaging a late-night plunge from the wagon

, Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton arrived at spring training and predicted his team would win 90 games. Despite his shocking, anemic year of inproductivity, the Rangers managed 87 wins and held our interest in baseball into September.

This year, Hamilton is predicting 96 wins. Wow.

The nine-game improvement is certainly possible, but not if Hamilton has another season hitting .268 with only 10 homers and 54 RBI and playing just 89 games. He's got to be 2008 pre-All Star Home Run Derby Josh, right?

If he is, the Rangers could win 96 and their first A.L. West title this millennium. If not ...

It won't matter if owner Chuck Greenberg is a breath of fresh air and new cash or Julio Borbon can lead-off or Ian Kinsler quits popping up or Neftali Feliz converts into a starter, the Rangers will continue to be the Rangers.

Nine days until the first exhibition game. Spring fever, anyone?

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