I just wanted to take another spin on "You be the GM" exercise.
I've been reading some RZers prediction on the payroll increase, and it seems possible that we could be looking at a payroll of around $85mil next season.

Filling out the 25-man roster w/ what we currently have looks like this:
Harang - 11mil
Volquez - 0.4mil
Cueto - 0.4mil
Arroyo -9.5mil

Ramirez -0.4mil
Owings -0.4mil
Masset -0.4mil
Cordero - 12mil
Bray - 0.4mil
Burton - 0.4mil

Gonzalez - 5.375mil
Phillips - 4.75mil
Freel - 4mil
Encarnacion - arb eligible 3mil?
Keppinger - 0.4mil
Votto - 0.4mil

Hopper - 0.4mil
Bruce - 0.4mil
Dickerson - 0.4mil

Hanigan - 0.4mil

Baker 3.5mil

Considering these players are set in stone (which they may not be). That leaves the following areas of need/spots to fill:
2 Bullpen Arms
1 Catcher
2 Position players

The total 25-man roster salaries (plus Baker) are: 58.325mil. I know that there are some expenses that I'm missing here, but I've read some pretty good posts on here that seem to suggest that after everything - we shoud have around $24mil to spend. So, I'm just going to assume that number.

The question is how best to fill our needs w/in the budge of $24mil.

My pitch would be this
2 Bullpen Spots:
Re-sign Affeldt - $4/5 mil (expensive, but I think a reliable lefty is a great assest)
Roenicke (or similar farm hand) - 0.4mil

Which leaves approx $20mil for 2 position players and catcher spot:
The needs on the club are obvious: SS, C, CF, LF.
--I say (at least initially) leave CF to Dickerson & Hopper/Freel. Maybe trade for CF later if we're in the race and Dickerson bombs. It would be nice to make a real upgrade in CF, but perhaps Stubbs moves along, or the FA market is better next year. As is, w/ the budget constraints, I say let Dickerson play and see what happens.
--Dangle Bailey for the best catching prospect available think Teagarden/Salty - 0.4mil
--LF trade for Magglio.. just do it.. its not the best but he's a stop-gap because I feel the long-term plans are Votto in LF and Alonso on 1st. We give up slightly better prospects than we should to get the Tigers to eat a huge chunk of the contract. Leaving us on the hook for around - 10mil.
--SS... this is where I'm torn... I think we sign Furcal... don't know what the going rate for him is, but say we get him for 12mil (perhaps on a back-loaded contract). We could afford to pay him more w/ Magglio off the books and replaced by much cheaper Alonso. If Gonzalez is healthy come spring training then he's trade bait. -12 mil (this year) hopefully w/ Gonzalez's 5 mil off the books.

My totals:
Payroll of 87.5mil (hopefully subtracting 5 mil of Gonzalez's contract if healthy and traded making it 82.5mil). This is about 2.5mil over the projected budget of $85mil, but I think it puts a winner on the field and B.Cast would sign off for a winner.