By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) I sort of feel like Jimmy Conway at the telephone booth after Tommy DeVito got whacked in Goodfellas.
Jimmy Conway: You get it straightened out?
Vinnie: No, we had a problem… and uh, we tried to do everything we could.
Jimmy Conway: What do you mean?
Vinnie: Well, you know what I mean. He’s gone, and we couldn’t do nothing about it… That’s it.
On Sunday night, the first-place Cubs agreed to trade prospects Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes and cash or a player to be named later for to the Tigers for reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila in an attempt to win their second consecutive World Series. Candelario is the last of the vaunted Cubs prospects to leave their farm system in this torturous plan of the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime.
What do I have to look forward to now? I’m going on six straight seasons of random injections of joy and adrenaline with prospect call-ups that began with Anthony Rizzo in June 2012. Now what?
There’s no Dan Vogelbach to trigger my Pavlovian salivations. Nothing is left to set fire to my loins like the idea of an Eloy Jimenez moving up to Double-A ball.
I’m suppressing whimpers and kicking the phone booth over.
Des Moines, Knoxville, Myrtle Beach — these cosmopolitan cities full of mystique hold no meaning to me now. I’ve let my travel agent know to cross them off any potential lists if I ever find the strength to leave my home again after this.
It’s difficult to remember what life was like before the Cubs loaded up their farm system and, thus, my very soul. Now both are bereft of the very fabric that gave them meaning. Of what is a life without prospects?
Two weeks ago, it was pointed out to Epstein that his organization no longer had anyone in the system ranked in the top 100 by Baseball America.
“And it’s the first time we can call ourselves defending world champions,” he retorted without any shred of sympathy.
“That’s a lot better than having some top-100 prospects.”
You monster. You cruel Victor Frankenstein, taking a corpse of a franchise and electrifying it without the sweet lifeblood of prospects only to turn your back on the whole thing when all it wanted was your love.
So who is Aramis Ademan?
“Compared to top prospects we’ve had in the past like Gleyber (Torres), he’s got nothing to envy Gleyber on defensively,” Cubs infield coordinator Jose Flores said of Ademan.
Why would you open a wound on me like that, dude? And what about Albertos?
“With the stuff he has, he can be a No. 1 in the big leagues,” Mesa rookie ball pitching coach Armando Gambino said of Albertos. “With a couple of years of development in the minor leagues, there’s no doubt he’s going to be the guy.”
That’s nice, but I need rankings. I need arbitrary numbers assigned to these names whose faces I don’t recognize, man.
Yes, the name Adbert Alzolay and name alone excited me when the late John Arguello first introduced me to it.
But Arguello and Dave DeFreitas wrote the following in May in their “2017 Cubs Organizational Review” of prospects:
One of the more unknown Cubs’ pitching prospects, Alzolay hasn’t developed quickly enough to warrant a lot of attention, nor does he have the physical attributes or prospect pedigree that bring scouts flocking to see his starts. But Alzolay is another good athlete with a loose frame and a live arm that allow him to generate above-average velocity despite a less-than-imposing frame. He’ll pitch in the 93-to-95 mph with his four- seam fastball but he’ll cut the pitch at times to add movement, while sacrificing about five mph off the velo. Alzolay also throws a solid-average curveball and changeup. He’s off to a good start in 2017, perhaps better than anyone on this list and that can be attributed simply to experience and physical maturation. Alzolay looks to have gotten stronger this year and added some lean muscle weight, which should help him better sustain his velocity late in games. He also has a pretty good feel for pitching and has the aptitude to keep building on that knowledge. Of all the pitchers on this list, Alzolay is the sleeper of the bunch. He projects as a number four or number five starter.
Sorry, but I need video of prospects hitting dingers off light towers to feed me spiritually. Not intelligent, diligent scouting reports that will be sorely missed, among other things, with Arguello’s passing this weekend.
I appreciate all these attempts to lift me up, but don’t bother. Just as it took years to replenish the desert on the farm that Epstein and Hoyer inherited, it will take that or longer to irrigate my insides that have been left infertile with the salt of weeping over what was and is no more.
Like the Cubs household name prospects in the minor leagues, my reason for baseball being is gone, and you can’t do nothing about it. That’s it.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.