At Baseball Reference, B.J. Rosenberg doesn't have any comparables quite yet -- there is not yet any list of players that Rosenberg resembles through his age-26 season, or just in general terms of career arc. There's something deeply satisfying about this, since B.J. Rosenberg is exactly the kind of pitcher that you can't really place historically. He's just a dot on a grid of ultimately disappointing, but not earth-scorchingly bad relief pitchers. You could probably pin a picture of Rosenberg on a poster that said "Welp...baseball" and everyone would kind of get what you meant. He's the depressing underbelly of prospect-objectification, the player that isn't exciting or infuriating enough to really matter in our hearts and minds
Here's an example that might make my point a bit better. While casting about in my own head, trying to think of who made sense to compare Rosenberg with, I remembered that erstwhile relevant pitcher Brad "Bad" Penny pitched a bit for the Giants this year in relief. I checked his stats to see how close he was to poor B.J., and, well...it's kind of striking. Here are Penny's stats, for reference. You'll note that both pitchers notched similar innings totals, 28 for Penny, 25 for B.J.. B.J. struck out around five more batters per nine innings than did Penny (that's good!), but issued about three more walks per nine than did Penny (that's bad.). Their home run rates were pretty similar (that's good?), but both hovered around a little over 1.25 per nine (...that's bad.). And in the end, their ERAs (Penny: 6.11, Rosenberg: 6.12) and Fielding Independent Percentages (FIP) (Penny: 5.31, Rosenberg: 5.17) were nearly identical (can I go now?).
The question on your lips is almost certainly, "Well who cares about Brad Penny?" Well...exactly. I'd imagine even Giants fans this year have largely forgotten about Penny, much as we all are forgetting about Rosenberg. The unfortunate truth of his 25 innings pitched are that they were largely uninteresting and often unsuccessful. That said, we should not make observations without context -- Brad Penny is seven years older than B.J. Rosenberg, and has the weight of terrible expectations already upon him. Rosenberg cannot be sugarcoated, I'm afraid -- there were some great moments where he would shine (his lone start against the Nats was actually pretty sound, with one earned run over four innings), and other times where he looked the part of his gargantuan ERA (just look through those boxscores on Fangraphs and see how often his game FIP ticks over 10). But unfortunately, that's not enough to write the book on Rosenberg. Is he likely some version of a longman or low-leverage reliever? The pessimist in me says yes. Could he lock in on his high K potential and lower his walks allowed, becoming a go-to late inning guy, spot starter, or even (*gasp*) fifth starter? His rates across double and triple A last year seem to suggest it's possible.
Until we get a clearer vision, however, he's just B.J. Rosenberg: forgettable bullpen arm. The good news is that he's in a prime position to surprise us all, and trust me when I say I will be more than happy to eat my words if and when that happens. B.J. himself has to be invested in this change as well, though, based on this interview we got from Ruben Amaro's leaked Blackberry, there's some of the odd identity ambivalence we saw with Tyler Cloyd as well (all Photoshops courtesy of the gentleman and scholar, HalladaySeason):
All right, let's try and get this over with painlessly.
Okay. I mean, what's painlessly mean?
You know this guy?
Sure. That's Tyler, the Creator of Outs. I hear he dissed me in his last mixtape.
Ugh. It was supposed to be an interview. Look, painlessly means don't do anything he did. Let's start -- name?
Good, good, first que-BJ DOOM.
Oh for the love of...
/slips on mask
/takes long pull out of flask
1. How did you let your teammates down this season?
I pitch badly, like it's something of a travesty to roster me, but I tell the people, "You can call me Potential King." Keep my fastball charged, you know it can't be hit, yo, and it's not my fault your bat slow. Shoulda left the pitch low, to keep flow, but fair's fair yo, plus nobody could miss nothing once I let the cookie go. And you know I know, that homer's not coming back, no, the groove is so butter, peep the high cutter as I calmly let the lead go. Sometimes I K dudes, sometimes I pitch slow, and vice versa, whip up a slice of junk-throwing pie, hit it on the first try. BJ: I'm the best and the worst guy.
2. How did you let your manager and GM down this season?
Spot hot relievers like he spot fat batters, spots up the bullpen from the side of Chuck's glances. And he won't throw us til he got the lead vanished, and show us what we know not through blown game morasses.
3. What do you have to say to all the fans you let down this season?
Be like a robot, and let go the outrage, phew; took a few seconds to convince myself, nothing I could do. Season's ugly, yeah, but look at you! It's a dang shame, just remember 25 IP when you wanna pass blame.
4. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst, how do you rate on the "It's my fault we're in this freaking mess and missed the playoffs" scale?
Uh, 2. And you know it, that I throw it, like maybe hard, I bet you wanna say, "You gave it your all, came up small." All vets scoff, "Amaro got the dice rigged," and you say I lost us our shot at a prize gig?
5. Other than yourself, who caused this fiasco of a season the most?
Allegedly, the rest of the pen hard throwing, but the starter-tradition allows the con to open. His shot crumbles, the pen bubbles, T. Cloyd never gets clutch like transmission trouble.