Just to be clear, I wasn't an opponent of the trade.
Sure, I'm going to miss Manny Ramirez pretty terribly, as I think most of us will. Whatever reports came out about his behavior, or phone calls, or anything else, Manny helped us immensely to two World Series wins in his time in Boston. There's nothing to really replace that, and most of his antics were of the entertaining, pain-free variety.
But we're in a new era now. I'd hesitate to call it the Jason Bay era, but it's definitely the no-Manny era. And one of the benefits of the trade (aside from acquiring a more than capable replacement) is going to be extra $$ to use if we want to in the offseason. And to some degree, we might need to wait until then to decide just how the trade went for the Sox. If that $$ (along with other $$ coming off the books, including Curt Schilling) is used towards someone who can help the Sox in a big way, then I'll be satisfied, as I'm sure most of you will as well.
So who're some of the big names available, in spots where we could use help? After all, we're pretty set at LF, RF, 1B, 2B, 3B and CL for at least the next season. CF is probably locked down as well, in addition to SS for better (Lowrie) or worse (Lugo?) So that leaves bullpen and starting pitching, with only one RP option seeming anything near desirable.
Brandon Lyon. 2008: 1.237 WHIP, 33 Ks in 43 2/3 IP
Don't look at me. I said "near" desirable. Lyon is not a classic power bullpen arm: he pitches to contact and doesn't exactly strike out a batter per inning. However, since he left the Sox (and I suppose one could make the connection: since he left the AL), he's been decent with his control and has forced hitters to beat him. Anyone who knows me knows that I've been pissed as hell this season about our RPs propensity to, if not walk a lot of guys, at least gift wrap 3-0 and 3-1 counts for hitters. This makes Lyon of at least marginal interest to me. Unfortunately, he's been the default closer for the D-Backs, and he'll no doubt be overrated because of his accumulation of (to date) 24 saves. However, if he's passed over enough, I wouldn't mind seeing the Sox sign him.
CC Sabathia. 2008: 1.157 WHIP, 166 Ks in 170 1/3 IP
The crown jewel of the 2008 free agent class, Sabathia will no doubt be sought after by most every team with the $$ to sign him. And the Sox do already have Beckett, Dice-BB, Lester, Buch?, and Wake? as possibilities/probables for the rotation next season. But I'll counter that thought with this quote: "Can it be considered an embarrassment of riches if I'm not embarrassed?"
Ben Sheets. 2008: 1.189 WHIP, 123 Ks in 146 1/3 IP
The risk-taking GM might get himself a gem in Sheets this offseason. I have no doubt that his injury history will scare some teams off, and he'll no doubt not be able to command a commitment beyond 3-4 years. When healthy, he's ace-quality. You'd have to think a team with SP depth in the minors will make a significant overture as soon as FA begins. Could it be the Sox?
Brad Penny. 2008: 1.599 WHIP, 47 Ks in 85 2/3 IP
Penny's season has been injury-filled, and those numbers above don't quite represent the pitcher he is. I have doubts that he'd translate to being an ace-quality pitcher in the AL East, but he could be a good #2-type, and his price could be low based upon the year he's had in 2008. Intriguing, if not entirely appetizing.
A.J. Burnett. 2008: 1.437 WHIP, 153 Ks in 151 2/3 IP
Burnett may or may not be a FA, and if he becomes one we may not want to go anywhere close. He'll only opt-out if he feels it would be to his financial advantage, and he's already due $36M over the next three seasons to complete a $55M contract. However, after an up-and-down season (the 1.437 WHIP isn't exactly typical) he could opt out, go somewhere to build value for a season, then look for another big contract after the 2009 season. Consider me semi-interested if that were the case.
Any ideas of your own of how to spend the extra $$? No doubt, some of it will go to a catcher (Tek or otherwise), but the Sox could definitely be big-time players in FA, and these are the type of guys we might spend that money on IMHO. I left some players off intentionally for different reasons related to signability/desirability, but I'm of course interested to see other suggestions than the ones I've listed above.