In 1990 the Red Sox made a trade with the Astros sending an infielder for a bullpen guy. The infielder was Jeff Bagwell and the bullpen guy was Larry Andersen who ended up pitching 15 games for the Red Sox. This year the Red Sox made another trade with the Astros where they send an infielder for a bullpen guy. The infielder was Jed Lowrie and the bullpen guy was Mark Melancon who has also pitched in 15 games for the Red Sox. Here's how those 15 games compare:
Andersen - 0-0 / 1.23 ERA / 22 IP / 1 Save / 25 K / 3 BB
Melancon - 0-2 / 7.04 ERA / 15 IP / 0 Save / 13 K / 4 BB
I'm not seriously comparing these two trades because the Bagwell trade was one of the biggest heists in baseball history (although I will point out that Bagwell only had 15 HR in his first full season with Houston while Lowrie already had 14). The real reason I bring this up is because the people who defend the trade from the Red Sox perspective always fire back with "well how could you project Lowrie being healthy for a full season"? These are the same people who will change their rationalization when it comes to the trade for Andrew Bailey who had an injury history just as bad as Lowrie's. Oh and the guy the Sox traded for Bailey - Josh Reddick - now has 20 HR for the A's. Meanwhile Bailey hasn't pitched a game for Boston.
The reason I bring up those trades is because I think the Red Sox should be sellers at the trade deadline but as those trades above show - I'm not sure if I have confidence with Ben Cherington's ability to make a good deal. And the Catch-22 is if the Red Sox become sellers then that gives Bobby Valentine an excuse for a poor record (and I despise Valentine). Part of me wants to keep this team together so that they could be humbled by a bad season. The realistic part of me says that these players won't be humbled though as much as exposed as petulant spoiled children (which would just made them even more unlikable than they already are).
OK - who to trade?
I'd start by trading Josh Beckett to the Rangers for a top prospect. Beckett has 2-years left on his contract and Texas needs to win now. Beckett would most likely waive his 10/5 rights for Texas. If you trade Beckett it also gives you payroll flexibility going forward for 2013 and 2014.
Kelly Shoppach could bring a minor prospect and the Sox could promote Ryan Lavarnway who fans want to see anyway. Promote Jose Iglesias to be the shortstop, trade Nick Punto and make Mike Aviles the utility guy. Ryan Sweeney - trade him. I wouldn't trade Jacoby Ellsbury at the trade deadline though.
You'll get more for Ellsbury in the offseason.