Jesus Aguilar is the biggest mistake of Terry Francona's career
Opinion by Tim Shirer
Let’s be clear about one thing Terry Francona is without a doubt the best manager in baseball currently and yes, he has won two World Series as a manager. But let’s not ignore the fact that Francona will ignore or throw young players and rookies under the bus and protect veterans at all cost. I believe in the end this will be a major factor in how Francona’s career as a manger ends. I like Francona and I am thankful that he has been the Indians manager since 2013, it has been a great run. But Tuesday night in Washington at the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Francona’s biggest mistake of his career, one that will haunt him for years will be on display. That mistake is named Jesus Aguilar.

Aguilar, the All-Star first baseman from the Milwaukee Brewers who Francona and the Cleveland Indians organization ignored and gave no chance to win the starting first baseman job when he was in the Indians. Aguilar made his Major League debut on May 15, 2014 and went 0 for 2, with a strikeout and one base on balls. He came in as a defensive replacement on May 16. 2014 and had one at bat and struck out. The beginning of the end for Aguilar as an Indian came the next night when he entered the game against Oakland as a defensive replacement. The Indians were already down 3-2 when the big slugger entered at first base, replacing Carlos Santana who moved to third base at that point. Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera had already made errors in the game which helped Oakland take the 3-2 lead. Aguilar made an error with no outs in the inning and the Athletics went on to score two unearned runs in the inning to increase their lead to 5-2. Oakland eventually went on to win the game 6-2. After the game Francona called out Aguilar for his error but said nothing about the errors by Santana and Cabrera. I remember watching the post-game press conference and being livid that Francona was alright with calling out the young Aguilar but said nothing about the veterans Santana and Cabrera. It became very clear at that moment, that night that Aguilar’s career as an Indians was never going to happen. Francona held a grudge against Aguilar for that error. From that point, on over the next two and a half seasons through the end of the 2016 Aguilar had exactly 54 AB’s in 32 games with the Indians. Francona had successfully relegated Aguilar to the doghouse, ending his career as an Indians and making it possible for the big guy to become an All-Star first baseman with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Aguilar’s stats at this point of his career are better than David Ortiz. If you don’t believe that look them up. I’m sure the stubborn Francona would have to look them up because he would never believe that his buddy Big Papi wasn’t as good at this point of his career than Aguilar a guy who he truly treated poorly and completely misjudged in his time as an Indian.

One last thing don’t give me the excuse, they had Swisher, Santana and Encarnacion. Well, Swisher was clearly at the end of his career, the Indians knew they would eventually lose Santana to free agency and they had not yet signed Encarnacion. So, all those excuses as to why Francona ignored Aguilar are null and void. Just as Francona owns winning two World Series titles as manager of the Red Sox, he will also have to own the fact that he misjudged the talent of a guy who could be one of baseball’s best slugger for the next ten plus years.. 
tshirer@lakecountysentinel.com or Follow us  on Twitter at SportsSentinel
​POSTED 07/12/2018 21:58
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Lake County Sentinel
MIlwaukee Brewers All-Star First Baseman Jesus Aguilar circa 2011 with the Lake County Captains.                                                          Photo by Ben Zedner