One of the hardest things to do in fantasy sports is to cut bait on an established star. Everyone has tough stretches, but even the best players will occasionally have seasons that make them not worth their roster spot.
This process gets even harder when the player in question was a high draft pick. I would not have said that selling on Jose Reyes in June would be a good idea, but in hindsight, that guy in your league who traded him for Randy Wells ended up making a pretty good deal.
Guys like David Ortiz have wrecked havoc with owners and wire-watchers all season with good months hidden within bad seasons. I sympathise with that position, so here are three guys owned in about 50% of ESPN.com leagues or more (which is a fairly representative sample of servers) that should not be anywhere near your team.
(The number in parenthesis for the suggested replacements is their availability)
B.J. Ryan (Owned: 63.7 percent)
Ryan is done for this season. After a rough start to the year, Ryan was removed from the Jays plans, despite holding a massive contract. Rather than hope that he was on the cusp of returning to form, as one poor soul in approximately 64 percent of leagues hopes he will, the Jays just ditched him, staying on the hook for his salary.
Release isn't the end of the line for all players, but it was for Ryan. He was claimed by the Cubs, pitched ok in the minors, but then asked for his release, and here's the key part, because he didn't feel like he could contribute to the big league team this season.
When a player says he doesn't have it, its a good bet that he's right.
Replacements: C.J. Wilson (20.6 percent) or J.P. Howell (52.3 percent)
Corey Hart (Owned: 82.9 percent)
The league has largely figured out Hart, whose 2006 and 2007 seasons were intriguing, but who has been disappointing since. His line this season, .264/.335/.433, is pretty similar to his 2008 line of .268/.300/.459, so this type of season shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
The drop in power is what has really sapped Hart's fantasy potential. He's swinging at around seven percent fewer pitches than he did last year and it has lead to a subsequent upswing in walks, which has helped him reclaim some of that loss, but not enough. He's still a power OF, who isn't flashing much power.
Of course the real reason to dump Hart is his recent appendectomy. Hart hit the DL on August 2 after his surgery, but can be expected to miss two weeks at the very minimum. Recovery times can go as long as a month, which would push Hart into September before he even begins his rehab.
If you decide to keep him, you'll be glad to know there isn't a minor leaguer champing at the bit to replace Hart, so he should see time whenever he returns. However, given that he hasn't been producing even when healthy, you'd be better off finding someone else for the stretch run.
Replacements: Travis Snider (7.6 percent) or Jason Kubel (70.3 percent)
Mike Aviles (Owned: 47.8 percent)
I know what you may be thinking: Why get upset about a guy owned in a shade under 50 percent of leagues?
The answer is simple: He should be owned in zero percent of leagues!
No matter how deep your league or how many keepers you deal with, Mike Aviles is a dead end. Like Hart, whatever value he had was wiped out by an injury. His .183/.208/.250 line, while intriguing, is as worthless now as Ben Sheets' 2008 record.
Aviles hasn't played a game since he went 0-3 on May 23, and had Tommy John surgery on July 8, ending not only this season, but a good part of next season as well. That's why, unlike the other two, he doesn't even stand a chance of redeeming his value next season.
If you really want him, you can wait and pick him up when he begins his rehab in the minors next...let's call it May to be safe.
Replacements: Clint Barmes (31.4 percent) or Adam Kennedy (14.1 percent)
If you've got any of these guys and fancy yourself a playoff contender, I'd jettison them right away; they won't help your cause now. No matter how deep your league, there are players better able to help you than these three.
Oh, and if someone in your league has B.J Ryan still hanging around, let me know. I've got some prime Florida real estate to sell!