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2007 Bullpen Preview: Aaron Sele

Mike SteffanosMonday, January 29, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Aaron Sele was a first round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1991. Although he started 108 games for the Sox from 1993-1997, it was after being traded to the Rangers that his career really took off with a 19-win season and an All Star appearance in 1998. After winning 18 the following season, the free agent Sele signed a lucrative 2-year contract with Seattle.

Here is a portion of the scouting report on Aaron Sele from The Sporting News that appeared in August 2001.

Skill set: Sele has very good in-out, up-down command. He has a low arm slot, and his arm action is very fluid. He's a natural curveballer. ... He has a settled aggressiveness, with the calmness and self-confidence of a great pitcher. ... He works quickly and has a high energy level. He also has an excellent feel for pitching; he gets ahead of hitters and sets them up.

Strengths and weaknesses: One reason he does not have a dominant fastball is that his curve mechanics dictate his overall form. His deception is excellent; hitters cannot tell the difference between his pitches. His deception, sharp-breaking 12-6 curve ball, diving splitter/change and overall command keep him in the big leagues, despite an average (at best) fastball. He has excellent pitch variety and can throw any pitch for strikes. His best pitches are the curve, splitter/change and cutter/two-seamer, in that order.

He won 32 games in 2 seasons with the Mariners, making the All Star Game for a second time in 2000. After the 2001 season he became a free agent again, and got a nice 3-year deal from Anaheim.

For the four previous years in Texas and Seattle, Aaron Sele had averaged 211 innings. Unfortunately for the Angels, Sele, who turned 32 his first year there, began to break down, averaging under 140 innings during the three seasons from 2002-2004. When that contract ran out he signed with Seattle again for a year on a minor league deal. He made the big league club, but was released in July after not pitching well. The Rangers gave him a minor league contract in August but then released him 10 days later.

The 36-year-old Aaron Sele signed a minor league contract with the LA Dodgers prior to the 2006 season. After beginning the year in AAA-Las Vegas, Sele was brought up in May and pitched rather well for a couple of months. He tailed off later in the year, went to the bullpen and didn't make the playoff roster. The Mets signed Sele to a minor league contract this week, and once again he will face an uphill battle to force his way onto the major league roster.

Here are Aaron Sele's numbers since his breakout 1998 campaign with the Rangers:

Aaron Sele Major League Stats 1998-2006
Year-Team G GS Innings Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA AVG OBP SLG
1998 - Texas 33 33 212.2 10.1 7.1 3.6 0.6 4.23 .283 .354 .402
1999 - Texas 33 33 205.0 10.8 8.2 3.1 0.9 4.79 .293 .355 .447
2000 - Seattle 34 34 211.2 9.4 5.8 3.2 0.7 4.51 .271 .332 .397
2001 - Seattle 34 33 215.0 9.0 4.8 2.1 1.1 3.60 .261 .306 .412
2002 - Anaheim 26 26 160.0 10.7 4.6 2.8 1.2 4.89 .299 .351 .458
2003 - Anaheim 25 25 121.2 10.0 3.9 4.3 1.3 5.77 .284 .372 .458
2004 - Anaheim 28 24 132.0 11.1 3.5 3.5 1.1 5.05 .310 .371 .458
2005 - Seattle 21 21 116.0 11.4 4.1 3.2 1.4 5.66 .315 .370 .497
2006 - Dodgers 28 15 103.1 10.5 5.0 2.6 1.0 4.53 .290 .340 .461

MLB Totals 370 352 2,099.1 10.0 5.9 3.3 0.9 4.59 .283 .349 .429

Aaron Sele will turn 37 in June, and is now 6 seasons removed from being a really effective major league starter. A curveball pitcher in his prime, he's lost the nasty hook that earned him All Star honors, and he's lost a lot off the fastball, too. Now he's just another of those guys trying to hold on to the last shreds of a major league career. Clearly this signing is a no-lose proposition for the Mets, who get some veteran insurance at a small investment. And Sele's terrific start with the Dodgers last year gives some hope that he can be useful, even if the month to month numbers tell a story somewhat less than cheerful:

Aaron Sele By Month 2006
Month G GS Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
May 5 5 32.2 2.20 7.2 4.4 2.2 0.6 .218 .268 .311
June 4 4 20.0 3.60 10.8 4.5 4.1 0.5 .296 .370 .469
July 6 4 23.1 6.17 12.0 6.2 2.7 1.5 .313 .358 .525
August 6 1 16.0 5.62 12.4 4.5 1.7 2.3 .324 .352 .588
Sept/Oct 7 1 11.1 7.94 13.5 5.6 2.4 0.0 .362 .412 .511

By the end of the season, Sele's numbers were dropping faster than ENRON stock in late 2001. While it would be foolish to make too much of Aaron Sele's possible value to the Mets in 2007, I'm reminded of the low expectations I held for Pedro Feliciano and Darren Oliver going into last season. Remember that Oliver didn't even pitch in the majors in 2005, so his career looked quite as dead back then as Sele's appears to be now.

In all honesty, I'm not expecting much from this signing. I guess I could picture Sele helping for a month or two in the rotation, as he did in LA last year. It's even possible he could find a Darren Oliver-like renaissance in a long reliever/swing man role. Maybe his contribution will be simply going to New Orleans as an insurance policy and mentoring a Mike Pelfrey and/or a Phil Humber, which could certainly be valuable. In any case, when you can get a pro like Sele for a minimal investment and low risk, it's a worthwhile signing.


2007 Bullpen Previews:
Jon Adkins
Adam Bostick
Ambiorix Burgos
Marcos Carvajal
Pedro Feliciano
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Clint Nageotte
Juan Padilla
Chan Ho Park
Duaner Sanchez
Steve Schmoll
Scott Schoeneweis
Aaron Sele (This Article)
Joe Smith
Jorge Sosa
Billy Wagner
Other Candidates
Four Other Names for You

2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up

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Comments (7)

I'm cautiously optimistic about Sele. If he pitches well enough in Spring Training to crack the rotation, I'd feel more confident in him every fifth day than Trachsel, whose spot he'd be taking... If he doesn't make the rotation, I'd rather see him released or toil in New Orleans than in the bullpen.

Mike,

What strikes me about your venture inside Sele's numbers is that they're not so different between '98 and '06. In admittedly half the innings he pitched in '98, he ended up with similar hits/9, AVG, and OBP numbers, lower K/9 and BB/9 ratios (which, to me, cancel each other out), but a big jump in slugging percentage against.

I'd be interested to see Sele's splits between his starts and relief appearances last season, but at a glance, it seems he's much more effective with a spot in a rotation. Bottom line here is, he's worth a look-see.

I think he is worth the chance to fit in as a spot starter and long reliever to help( the very busy pen) this year. I don't see to many of our guys going much over 5 innings each. We may need a few long relievers standing by.

I'm guessing the Mets see Sele as disaster insurance for the rotation, hopefully one with a higher policy face value than Jose Lima provided last year.

I gotta say, I like having him around better than I ever liked Jose Lima last year.

Mike - I agree. I think they have better options for the bullpen and think Sele will most likely be insurance in New Orleans.
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NostraDennis - I think when you consider the AL vs NL and hitter's park (Texas) vs pitcher's park (LA) the numbers don't compare. Still, if Sele pitched somewhat consistently to those numbers all season he would have received a major league contract from someone. He pitched great in May and good in June, which added up to half his innings. He was very bad the rest of the way, and that's what has scared everyone off.

He did much worse in the bullpen last year, but basically went to the bullpen when he couldn't cut it as a starter any more. I'm just trying to be realistic, but you're right, he's worth a look without the risk of a major league contract.

Rev - Omar is definitely playing a numbers game.
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dd - I agree.

Hmmm... May and June, numbers are good. Looks like that's all we need out of him. By then, the whole Perez/Humber/Pelfrey thing will have shook out and we'll know what we have for starters and whether a trade is needed. If this is what Omar had in mind, he's looking smarter every day.

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