By now everyone knows about the fried chicken and beer allegations, among other clubhouse issues. In fact, the Boston Globe published "before and after" pictures asking readers their opinion of which players weren't exactly taking their committment to game-readiness seriously enough. Now Manager Tito Francona is gone, followed by several kick-him-on-the-way-out the door leaks and comments, and GM Theo Epstein likely isn't far behind. Epstein, in particular, has been lousy at putting the pieces in place recently, as the acquisitions - for really big money - of John Lackey, Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks have demonstrated. So the Cubs want Theo? Great. Grab a couple of good prospects and send him on his way.
The Red Sox seem to want Assistant GM Ben Cherington to take over for Epstein. The only way that works for me is if there is a "director of baseball operations" installed above him. Cherington has been with the team since 1999, and the minor league system is virtually barren of high-level talent. How'd it get that way, Ben? The players that come up from the minors don't seem to be "big league ready" when they arrive, often making several trips between Pawtucket and Boston before sticking. Why is that, Ben? If he can answer those questions, and then answer how he plans to turn those problems around, then maybe you promote him. But I'd rather tap into an organization who successfully comes up with big league levels of talent who arrive ready to contribute. Like Tampa, St. Louis, Minnesota for example. You cannot simply follow a "plug in high-priced free agent A" mentality unless you want your disappointments to also bankrupt you.
As for player movement, I stand by most of my assessments, but I think there will be value in breaking up the Lackey-Beckett influence in the clubhouse. Beckett will be the easiest to trade; Lackey will make you eat millions if you want to move him. But one of them has to go, and you'll want at least two, preferably three, good young arms in return for a Beckett if that happens. I'd like to move Kevin Youkilis, who likely could bring more good young talent. I would bring back Ortiz - YMMV. The core - Pedroia, Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Crawford, Ortiz, Lester, Bucholz - are keepers (in Crawford's case you're forced to make it work). You'll need Bard and Papelbon, and you need a manager who can use them right. Give Reddick or Kalish a shot in right field; fill the hole at third if Youkilis is traded, and at catcher if you don't think Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway are enough, and rework the bench with solid pros with character. If you can't find those guys then your major league scouting isn't doing its job either.
I would be surprised if next year's team threatens championship. They'll be above .500, and that won't be great, but erasing and building will not be simple. The sensible time frame should be 2013 and 2014 - the core players will still be young and productive, and the bad taste from this years calamity will have been diluted by time.