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The Cardinals' Outfield Backup Plans

With Ryan Ludwick set to hit the DL, and nobody yet singled out to replace him, it's useful to look at the Cardinals' two main options to replace him on the roster, if not necessarily in right field. Each of the options, oddly enough, closely tracks a player already set to get the bulk of Ludwick's playing time—

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Jon Jay, like Randy Winn, is a strong defensive outfielder who hits right-handers better than left-handers. He hit .302/.302/.442 in 26 games with the Cardinals earlier in the season, and is having a career year in AAA Memphis, where he slugged just .394 a year ago. This year he's hitting .321/.394/.491 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, splitting his time between left and center field. Jay has an excellent arm, runs well on the bases and in the outfield, and at his best gets on base fairly often. He was a second round pick in the 2006 draft that produced Adam Ottavino and Chris Perez. 

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Allen Craig was the eighth round pick in that same draft, and while he's moved from shortstop all the way to the outfield since then he's done nothing but hit since; his career minor league line is .305/.366/.512, and he's hitting .300/.360/.507 in Memphis after a slow start.

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Craig can kind of play third base, which sets him apart from his doppelganger, Nick Stavinoha, and he's probably a better hitter, too. In his unsatisfyingly brief major league debut he somehow had just one of his four line drives (of 14 balls put into play) into a hit, but his line in Memphis proves he's the same excellent hitter he's always been. 

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If Ludwick should miss an extended period of time, Allen Craig seems like the best fit to replace him; he could provide extra power to lineup that will need it, and Randy Winn can spot him on defense. But if Ludwick will return around the all-star break, when his stint on the DL can end, we're more likely to see Jon Jay, who had a superficially impressive start to his major league career and feels more like a finished product. 

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