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One of the laws of fantasy baseball is that stars who are slumping eventually will bounce back to their robust historical averages - you just have to wait, and make sure you have a player on a streak to plug into your lineup in the meantime.
Having said that, patience has its limits, and if your fantasy team is in postseason contention, the second half of the baseball season is no time to waste a roster spot on a slumping star.
I'm not talking about guys like Matt Kemp, OF, LAD; Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS; or Evan Longoria, 3B, TAM; who have spent much of the first half injured and actually could rebound with a vengeance in the second half. I mean guys like Justin Upton, OF, ARI, who failed to get a hit in Wrigley Field last weekend.
Here's my list of stars skating on thin ice (You'll probably recognize a few of these names from my "Stars and Gripes" column a couple weeks ago):
Justin Upton, OF, ARI: We should be talking about him as a 30/100/30 threat, but seven HRs and 38 RBIs qualify as a lost season, and there's an ongoing mystery about a lingering injury. He's still young and does have trade value, especially in a keeper league. I'd try to find a buyer before letting him go, but too many outfielders are having better seasons.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: Expected to be a sophomore stud, but instead has a case of the sophomore stumbles. He has great long-term potential, and even with soft hitting stats he's a stolen base threat at a position that doesn't have many, but I'd cut bait with Hosmer and try to draft him next year.
Carlos Santana, C/1B, CLE: Arguably the biggest fantasy disappoint at any position, Santana has no HRs and a total of one RBI in the last 30 days. Locally, there is talk the Indians will send him down to the minors to send him a message. You shouldn't wait that long. If you're holding Santana as a back-up catcher, dump him and go get someone like Salvador Perez, KC, or Yasmani Grandal, SD.
Mike Napoli, C/1B, TEX: With Santana's problems and Napoli's deflation to 12 HRs and a .225 average after last year's 30/.320, the top two catchers have been huge disappointments. Napoli does have more trade value, but assuming you have benched him anyway, cut him loose for whomever has the most HRs on your league's waiver wire.
Jose Reyes, SS, MIA: This is a little bit of a tough call. He's roughly on pace for his 2011 stats with one exception - his average now is .264, compared to last year's .339. If you really need the SBs, you'll want to keep him and his 20 thefts, but if you need pop in other categories, you might look at Trevor Plouffe, SS, MIN-19 HRs; Kyle Seager, 2B/3B/SS-54 RBI; or Alcides Escobar, SS, KC-.311 average.
* Bleacher Report advises on what to do with the injured Joey Votto. (Hint: Get someone else to play first base.)
* CBSSports.com notes how many injured stars are returning imminently.
* ESPN, meanwhile, says Votto isn't headed to the DL. The circle of life continues.
* Full Spectrum Baseball ponders about what to do about Tim Lincecum, otherwise known as the worst pitcher in baseball. I almost put him on my cut list, but I like his 108 strikeouts in 104 innings, and think he'll be at least less bad in the second half.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.