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firstly, I'd like to report, I am a Butters fan. He is my single most favorite character. BUT I don't think he should be in "big four".
The ones supporting Butters replacing Kenny should think about what is the reason of forming "big four". It's their characteristics bringing them together. Any of them having small roles would not affect the placement -- in other words, they simply meant to be.
Butters and Tweek were simply out of shape when they were put with Stan, Kyle and Cartman, and that's the reason I don't like season 6. (Frankly I think Tweek is totally wasted because of this. Butters is more lucky)
Back to the main point, I also agree that Kenny is far too downplayed. But that's not Butters' fault.
Actually, Butters was not well-used, especially recently. Butters should interact with other three main characters more, especially, you guessed, Kenny (Kyle is too different from Butters so forget it). "Raisins" and "Good Times with Weapons" were both hilarious because the Butters / Stan or Kenny crossovers were really impressive. Pity that M&T didn't come up with better ideas.
IF I have to find a reason to justify the show boring (or to account for the diminished or bad use of whoever in question), it would probably be the number of main character was actually diminishing into ONE -- why didn't anybody concern that Cartman's already over starring? Season 11 has 4 episodes and 3 of them featured Cartman! (Well, that doesn't mean I hate Cartman in the show)
Your right that Kenny brings a certain balance two the group of 4, and that is being there in the background not saying much. Butters is still a main character outside the main group because he also brings balance to the show and has alot of re-curring themes surrounding his character.
As far as Cartman goes, he been a major part of just about 95% of all episodes since the start of the show. Season 10 had three episodes that pretty much starred Cartman exclusivly
I think they should give an episode centered solely on him, where we can hear the thoughts in his head while mumbling to everyone else. He might actually turn out to be smarter than others, only he hides it behind his pervertedness...
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