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Phillies trade Ben Francisco, Ryan Braun’s fall from grace, and Brewers add Aramis Ramirez

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

 Francisco shipped to Toronto

The overhaul of the Phillies’ bench continued Monday when the team sent outfielder Ben Francisco  to Toronto for lefty reliever Frank Gailey. Gailey is Philadelphia native and Archbishop Carroll and West Chester University graduate. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2007 and spent last year between Toronto’s Class A and Double-A teams.

Francisco became expendable when the Phillies acquired Ty Wigginton last month from the Rockies. Although Wigginton is primarily an infielder, he has experience playing the corner outfield positions.

The new additions of Wigginton, Jim Thome, and Laynce Nix to the team would have even further decreased Francisco’s playing time in 2012, which had diminished since he lost the starting right fielder’s job last season.

Francisco was acquired along with Cliff Lee in July of 2009. His most memorable contribution to the team was his game-winning, pinch hit three-run homer off Cardinals’ lefty Jaime Garcia in Game 3 of this year’s NLDS, which helped give the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the series.

One interesting stat to take note of: Wigginton has a .265 average off ‘finesse’ pitchers, something this Phillies team seems to have issues with.

Ryan Braun: Most Valuable Performance Enhancing Drug user

Has there ever been a more embarrassing fall from grace than Ryan Braun’s?

Think about it. Just three weeks after being named the National League MVP, it was announced this weekend that Braun has tested positive for PEDs.

It’s not surprising that a player tested positive for a banned substance, there’s been plenty of that over the last few years. However, this is not J.C. Romero folks, this is the newly anointed MVP of the National League. This screams “Made for TV Movie.” They haven’t even given him the award yet for God’s sake!Braun photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Braun reportedly tested positive during the post season, not the regular season, which is an interesting case in itself. Why would he wait until baseball’s biggest stage to start using PEDs when he was reportedly clean for six months?

Alll opinions cast aside regarding Braun and whether or not he knowlingly used PEDs, something just doesn’t wash here.

Test results showed that Braun had an overwhelming level of testosterone, probably the highest level ever recorded by a drug test in major league history. Braun of course, is appealing the results of the test, and emphatically denies any wrongdoing. Braun’s agent claims there are “unusual circumstances” and that Braun had synthetic testosterone in his system.  

Are these indeed unusual circumstances? Or does this just mean Ryan Braun simply found another way to cheat that nobody else has done yet? Or are others doing the same thing and just haven’t been caught yet?

Braun knew the results of the test back in October, so you can only imagine the horror of knowing this story would come to light in between his notification of the test, and the MVP award announcement. Now I know how Milli Vanilli must have felt when they won that Grammy.

Simply put, there are more questions than answers. Bottom line, it doesn’t look good for Braun. And the more he speaks, the worse he looks if he loses his appeal for the 50-game suspension he will serve.

Either way, this is a dark cloud that will most likely hang over him the rest of his career.

Brewers add Aramis Ramirez in wake of Braun scandal

With the possible loss of Braun for 50 games and the likely departure of Prince Fielder to free agency, the Brewers signed third baseman Aramis Aramis Ramirez has been looked at pretty closely by the Phillies’ front office. Photo: Gene Puskar (AP)Ramirez to what appears to b a three-year deal on Monday.

Ramirez has shown signs of breaking down the last few years, but he is still a high caliber third baseman. One the Phillies could have used.....

Ramirez now joins newly signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez on the left side of the Brewers infield. With a currently combined 67 years of age between Ramirez and Gonzalez, the Brewers immediately get older. However, it still doesn’t beat the combined ages of the left side of the Phillies’ infield if Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco return. The duo has two years on the Brew crew’s infield at a combined 69 years of age.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Braun photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images