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Theo Epstein's leap from the Red Sox to the Cubs

So barring a dramatic change of heart and/or course, it appears, Theo Epstein is going to leave the Red Sox for the Cubs, a notion that seemed preposterous just a short time ago.

Amazing, to me, that Epstein would bolt Boston right after one of the worst collapses in baseball history. And shortly after Terry Francona's departure.

Perhaps you recall that, back in August, I identified the Red Sox owners as the best in the industry. In a throwaway line, I cited Joe Esposito in writing, "They're the best around. Nothin's gonna ever keep them down."

Well, maybe a historic plummet will keep them down. Or at least expose them as being far from perfect.

The Red Sox have a pair of terrible contracts on the books in Carl Crawford and John Lackey; they have a clubhouse that needs to be cleaned up; their farm system is in a slump; their immensely popular DH David Ortiz is a free agent; and they have a fan base that is as testy as it is passionate. The Rays have proven decisively that they should never be counted out, the Blue Jays are improving and the Yankees are the Yankees.

Under Epstein's replacement Ben Cherrington and whatever manager Cherrington chooses, the Red Sox will hardly be doomed. They have a decent base of talent.

Yet for a franchise whose inhabitants enjoyed the perception of being the industry model, this is a very surprising level of turbulence.

As for Epstein and the Cubs, sure, he should restore a level of order to the team's baseball operations. That is, assuming that the Epstein of the last couple of years we saw - the guy who overcommitted to John Lackey and Carl Crawford - vanishes and is replaced by the Epstein who made a series of excellent decisions to mold the Red Sox of 2003 through 2009.

--I'm off to Detroit for ALCS Game 4. Great game by the Tigers last night.


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