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By Jim Callis

Dec. 22, 2005

I'm back before Christmas as promised. We're just about done with the the 2006 Prospect Handbook, which you should get sometime in January if you ordered directly from us.

The Handbook still draws most of my attention, so let's get to a couple of quick questions before I head back to that project.

    With all of the free-agent signings this month, how do they affect the 2006 draft order?

    Taal Martin
    New York

A lot has changed in the three weeks since I last updated the free-agent compensation chart. Here's where we stand now:

First Round
18. Phillies (from Mets for Type A Billy Wagner)
21. Yankees (from Phillies for Type A Tom Gordon)
22. Nationals (from Athletics for Type B Esteban Loaiza)
25. Angels (from Indians for Type B Paul Byrd)
26. Nationals (from Angels for Type B Hector Carrasco)
28. Red Sox (from Yankees for Type A Johnny Damon)

Supplemental First Round
31. Orioles (for Type A B.J. Ryan)
32. Giants (for Type A Scott Eyre)
33. Diamondbacks (for Type A Tim Worrell)
34. Padres (for Type A Ramon Hernandez)
35. Marlins (for Type A A.J. Burnett)
36. Phillies (for Wagner)
37. Braves (for Type A Kyle Farnsworth)
38. Indians (for Type A Bob Howry)
39. Red Sox (for Damon)
40. Yankees (for Gordon)
41. Cardinals (for Type A Matt Morris)
42. Braves (for Type A Rafael Furcal)
43. Red Sox (for Type A Bill Mueller)
44. *Diamondbacks (for failure to sign 2005 first-rounder Justin Upton)
45. *Mets (for failure to sign 2005 first-rounder Mike Pelfrey)
*Club still negotiating with first-rounder.

Second Round
52. Braves (from Dodgers for Furcal)
54. Padres (from Orioles for Hernandez)
55. Cardinals (from Giants for Morris)
58. Indians (from Cubs for Howry)
59. Orioles (from Blue Jays for Ryan)
73. Braves (from Yankees for Farnsworth)

Supplemental Second Round
76. Indians (for Type C Scott Elarton)
77. Cardinals (for Type C Abraham Nunez)

Third Round
84. Red Sox (from Dodgers for Mueller)
87. Diamondbacks (from Giants for Worrell)
90. Giants (from Cubs for Eyre)
91. Marlins (from Blue Jays for Burnett)

Fourth Round
120. Twins (from Cubs for Type B Jacque Jones)

There are just four remaining free agents who will bring compensation if they sign with new clubs:

Type A
Jeff Weaver (LAD).

Type B
Rich Aurilia (Cin), Al Leiter (NYY), Kevin Millwood (Cle).

    It seems as if the Red Sox replaced one elite prospect in shortstop Hanley Ramirez with another in third baseman Andy Marte. I know they play different positions, but which player would you rather have for the next two years and for the next 10 years. Overall, who is the winner of these two trades, the Braves, Marlins or Red Sox?

    James Qu
    Decatur, Ga.

I'd rather have Marte than Ramirez in both the short term and the long term. Shortstop is a harder position to fill than third base, and if they both reach their ceilings, Ramirez will be the better player. But Ramirez never has had a breakout season to match his tools, and while he remains one of the game's best shortstop prospects, there seems to be something missing. I think when we look back on the Josh Beckett trade in a few years, we'll see that the Red Sox sold high on Ramirez. I still think he'll be a big league regular, but I'm less confident that he'll be a star.

Marte's biggest problem in Atlanta was that he was blocked at third base by Chipper Jones, who doesn't want to return to the outfield. The Braves didn't have an obvious place to play him, and used him to get Edgar Renteria to fill their shortstop void left by Rafael Furcal. Where he'll play this year remains uncertain, because Boston has Mike Lowell at the hot corner and Marte has next to no experience at other positions, but Marte should become an all-star-caliber third baseman. It's also possible the Red Sox could flip him in another deal to address holes at other positions.

At this point, Boston looks like the winner in both deals. I'd rather have Josh Beckett (along with Lowell and Guillermo Mota) than Ramirez and other three prospects (righties Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia) the Red Sox sent to the Marlins, and I'd rather have Marte than Edgar Renteria. Boston still needs to find a shortstop, however.

Dec. 2, 2005

The good news: The 2006 Prospect Handbook is steaming toward completion, meaning it will be in your hands sooner than ever before (sometime in January if you ordered directly from us).

The bad news: To get the Handbook done, it's going to need my full attention, so Ask BA is going into hibernation for a few weeks. It will return before Christmas, and we'll still be taking your questions in chat rooms here at BA.com (every couple of days, related to the team Top 10 Prospects lists) and at ESPN.com (every Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET).

One of the most popular questions this week was where the lefthanders whom the Phillies received in the Jim Thome trade would fit on their Top 10. I'll give you a sneak preview of the Handbook by telling you that Gio Gonzalez slots in at No. 2, behind Cole Hamels, and Daniel Haigwood comes in at No. 6, behind Scott Mathieson.

Before I go, I'll leave you with an update of the draft picks tied to free-agent compensation. This assumes that all the free agents who have signed to this point will be offered arbitration by their former clubs before the Dec. 7 deadline, because there's no reason not to.

First Round
18. Phillies (from Mets for Type A Billy Wagner)
22. Nationals (from Athletics for Type B Esteban Loaiza)

Supplemental First Round
31. Orioles (for Type A B.J. Ryan)
32. Giants (for Type A Scott Eyre)
33. Diamondbacks (for Type A Tim Worrell)
34. Phillies (for Wagner)
35. Indians (for Type A Bob Howry)
36. *Diamondbacks (for failure to sign 2005 first-rounder Justin Upton)
37. *Mets (for failure to sign 2005 first-rounder Mike Pelfrey)
*Club still negotiating with first-rounder.

Second Round
47. Diamondbacks (from Giants for Worrell)
50. Indians (from Cubs for Howry)
51. Orioles (from Blue Jays for Ryan)

Supplemental Second Round
68. Cardinals (for Type C Abraham Nunez)

Third Round
81. Giants (from Cubs for Eyre)

Here are the remaining free agents who will bring compensation if their former clubs offer them arbitration:

Type A
Wilson Alvarez (LAD), Brad Ausmus (Hou), A.J. Burnett (Fla), Jeromy Burnitz (ChC), Royce Clayton (Ari), Roger Clemens (Hou), Jeff Conine (Fla), Johnny Damon (Bos), Octavio Dotel (Oak), Erubiel Durazo (Oak), Kyle Farnsworth (Atl), Rafael Furcal (Atl), Tom Gordon (NYY), Tony Graffanino (Bos), Mark Grudzielanek (StL), Ramon Hernandez (SD), Trevor Hoffman (SD), Todd Jones (Fla), Matt Lawton (NYY), Braden Looper (NYM), Kevin Millar (Bos), Bengie Molina (LAA), Matt Morris (StL), Bill Mueller (Bos), Mike Piazza (NYM), Joe Randa (SD), Al Reyes (StL), Kenny Rogers (Tex), Rudy Seanez (SD), Julian Tavarez (StL), Ugueth Urbina (Phi), Larry Walker (StL), Jeff Weaver (LAD), Rondell White (Det), Bob Wickman (Cle).

Type B
Antonio Alfonseca (Fla), Rich Aurilia (Cin), Paul Byrd (LAA), Hector Carrasco (Was), Elmer Dessens (LAD), Cal Eldred (StL), Juan Encarnacion (Fla), Shawn Estes (Ari), Carl Everett (CWS), Julio Franco (Atl), Nomar Garciaparra (ChC), Alex Gonzalez (Fla), Todd Greene (Col), Chris Hammond (SD), Scott Hatteberg (Oak), Roberto Hernandez (NYM), Jason Johnson (Det), Jacque Jones (Min), Al Leiter (NYY), Kenny Lofton (Phi), Brian Meadows (Pit), Jim Mecir (Fla), Jose Mesa (Pit), Dan Miceli (Col), Kevin Millwood (Cle), Jamie Moyer (Sea), Mike Myers (Bos), Rafael Palmeiro (Bal), Todd Pratt (Phi), Felix Rodriguez (NYY), Reggie Sanders (StL), J.T. Snow (SF), Sammy Sosa (Bal), Russ Springer (Hou), Frank Thomas (CWS), Brett Tomko (SF), Michael Tucker (Phi), Daryle Ward (Pit), Jarrod Washburn (LAA), Bernie Williams (NYY), Preston Wilson (Was).

Type C (first-time free agents only)
Joey Eischen (Was), Scott Elarton (Cle).

See you in a couple of weeks!

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