Epstein's exact role and title had not been completely determined as of last night. Nor had it been decided exactly how co-GMs Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington would be recast. The club, in a release, indicated only that Epstein would be rejoining the Sox in a ''full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week." However, expectations within the organization point to Epstein returning as the lead decision-maker within baseball operations, with Hoyer and Cherington working under him.
Dan Shaughnessy, the polarizing columnist who is most closely identified with the Red Sox than any other writer (with all due respect to Peter Gammons), writes:
Here's an inside look at how it works over at Fenway these days. The Red Sox are afraid of what is written about them in the newspapers and what is said about them on WEEI. That's why we got this vague, preemptive strike just after the dinner hour last night. Nothing has changed since Theo left and no one knows how the new arrangement is going to work, but owner John W. Henry figured it was better to put out a press release saying ''all is well" than to read more speculation about weakness at the top.
Embarrassing. The people in baseball operations were working hard as usual late last night, trying to plug the team's holes in center field and shortstop, when Epstein called them and told them there was going to be an announcement that he's coming back next week. No one knew quite what to say to their former boss. There's been no discussion about who will report to whom. No one knows how this is going to work, and Theo has burned some bridges with his own people. But John W. Henry loves him. So he gets to come back. The only certainty is that Theo will report to CEO Larry Lucchino, according to Henry.
Just 15 months after arguably the most glorious sports celebration in Boston's history, the luster officially is off the ownership and management at fabled Fenway Park. In this soap opera, president Larry Lucchino first made the mistake of arrogance. Then, owner John Henry committed the blunder of passivity. And now, Theo Epstein is committing perhaps the most inexplicable transgression of all.
In the face of better judgment, he's coming back.
Time for group therapy at 4 Yawkey Way.
The Red Sox, like the Yankees in previous years, have become equally, if not more, entertaining off-the-field than they are between the white lines. David Pinto thinks that the Red Sox keep finding ways of turning themselves into the Yankees. "Boston's front office is a soap opera," writes Pinto. "New York's front office is the calmest and quietest I've seen it since George took over. Who'd have thunk it?" I don't know how or if any of this mishegoss will impact the Sox on the field (remember, the Yanks had some winning teams during the Bronx Zoo Era), but Pinto's right. Who, indeed, would have thunk it?