Time Warp

So Theo Epstein is back, and he is back in the role of General Manager of the Boston Red Sox. The last 10 weeks never happened. The Red Sox issued a lengthy release yesterday which included statements from all parties involved and affected. Michael Silverman, who was first with the story yesterday, says that Theo saw the light that the Red Sox left on for him, and worked out his differences with the club so that all are on the same page now. Chris Snow notes that Epstein is now an “Executive” Vice President, rather than just a “Senior” Vice President, so perhaps he did get a little more clout, though the long release from the team stated that Larry Lucchino’s role has not changed at all. Sean McAdam says that Epstein is expected to receive $1.5 million annually – the amount the sides had agreed to before Epstein broke off the talks earlier this fall. David Heuschkel notes that we don’t know the length of the new deal, as Larry Lucchino states that the “team doesn’t reveal the duration of contracts for management.” Sounds like a new policy to me. David Borges and Joe Haggerty also look at the return of Theo as outlined in the 2,526 word press release.

Bob Ryan attempts to sort out the meaning of the slightly changed title and of the voluminous press release in which he feel John Henry contradicts himself. Steve Buckley (subscription only) writes that a lot of this all still doesn’t make sense. He’s not sure which parts to believe of the release and finds it ironic that it took the Red Sox several pages to state that everyone is on the same page. The story made the New York sports pages, with Jack Curry in the Times being one to weigh in on the return of Theo.

John Molori’s Media Blitz goes after Glenn Ordway for how he attacked Theo for leaving and returning, and the Red Sox for how they handled it. Molori notes that several Big Show staffers, as well as other WEEI and Boston media personalities have left jobs only to return to the same one later. David Scott also weighs in on the release and how the Red Sox have handled things.

Meanwhile, Theo will have some work to do as he returns to the post of General Manager. The deal with Cleveland for Coco Crisp may have hit a snag last night as it was reported by WIP in Philadelphia that Guillermo Mota had failed his physical. Chris Snow has Mota’s agent stating that his client “did not flunk his physical” but that sometimes the acquiring club is allowed to have higher standards. Silverman’s notebook states that Epstein and the Indians front office were working last night to restructure the deal. Sean McAdam also says that the Red Sox and Indians will look to restructure the deal to make it work for both parties. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reports on the progress of the trade and what might be next for the two clubs.

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The Bruins made it two wins in a row last night with a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports on the game, which was won on a goal by P.J. Axelsson with seven minutes left in the game. Steve Conroy also reports on the win, which moved the Bruins a bit closer to the final playoff spot. Karen Guregian weighs in on Mario Lemieux announcing his retirement yesterday. Burrell’s notebook looks at Axelsson playing his role perfectly with the Bruins. Conroy’s notebook has Mike Sullivan talking about how valuable Brad Stuart has been to the Bruins since coming over from the Sharks in the Joe Thornton deal.

Peter May looks at how the Celtics are feeling a bit better about themselves these days and feel ready to make a run at the postseason. He examines their remaining schedule as well as their roster to try to figure out if it can actually happen. Shalise Manza Young has Doc Rivers also hopeful that his young club can go on a bit of a run and make things interesting for the second half of the season. Scott Souza also look at the Celtics chances of going on a run. Steve Bulpett reports that Paul Pierce will at least get an interview from Jerry Colangelo about possibly being a member of this summer’s World Championships team and the 2008 Olympic club. The Celtics face the Wizards tonight, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the eastern conference. Bulpett’s notebook observes that a win tonight could be a big step for the Celtics in their quest towards that spot.

Bob Ryan weighs in on Kobe vs. Wilt after Bryant’s 81 point performance the other night.

Michael Felger says that if they want to, the Patriots can spend some money in free agency. He looks at where the money could come from, and examines their free agent signings of the last few years to see what type of player they could target this spring. Jerome Solomon looks at how the Steelers got off to a 7-5 start this season, but haven’t lost since. Jim Donaldson asserts that former UMass and Brown coach Mark Whipple might have a lot to do with the success that Ben Roethlisberger has had while Whipple has been his quarterbacks coach.

FSN has Celtics/Wizards at 7:30. ESPN has Maryland/Georgia Tech at 7:00 (HD) and Timberwolves/Grizzlies at 9:00. UPN38 has Boston College/North Carolina at 9:00.