Welcome to the New York Yankees manager's chair, Joe Girardi.
Are you an idiot?
Only chip-off-the-old-block Hank Steinbrenner knew exactly the point he was trying to make when he told the New York Times that "you have to be an idiot" to "have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy."
The guy, of course, is Joba Chamberlain. And Steinbrenner's early frustration is understandable, given that the Yankees have been sluggish out of the gate over these first three weeks largely because Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are a combined 0-5 with a 9.20 ERA.
When ferreting out the idiot of whom Steinbrenner spoke, here are two very important points to remember:
-- Girardi last winter signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal to manage the Yankees that runs through 2010.
-- General manager Brian Cashman is working in the final year of his contract, and the club so far appears not to have made much of an effort to re-sign him.
That doesn't mean Cashman is a short-timer as Yankees GM. Far from it.
But as this situation develops, and as the season plays out, it definitely bears watching.
During a conversation at the club's complex in Tampa this spring, Steinbrenner was complimentary of Cashman but declined to say if or when he would get around to talking with the GM about his future beyond 2008.
"I've known Cash a long time," Steinbrenner said. "He's been with our family a long time."
Steinbrenner said then that he would discuss the future with Cashman during the season, but wouldn't be pinned down on a time.
"It'll happen when it happens," Steinbrenner said then. "The big thing with Brian is the organization he's put in place. This is not going to be based on one decision. Damon Oppenheimer as the chief of scouting obviously has paid off huge. The way he's worked with Mark Newman (senior vice-president of the Tampa-based part of the Yanks baseball operations) and Joe Girardi. ..."
So ... who's the Idiot in Yankee-land?
Could it be Girardi, who left Chamberlain out of the rotation to begin the season?
Cashman, who obviously is one of the point men in that decision?
During that same conversation this spring, Steinbrenner spoke glowingly of Girardi.
"I love what he does," Steinbrenner said. "I love what he's doing. I really do. It's more a combination of things. (The players) like him and respect him, and I think there's even a little fear. He can be intimidating. He's a tough guy."
The plan all along has been to start the 22-year-old Chamberlain in the bullpen as a way of controlling his innings-pitched odometer. At three different minor-league levels and with the Yankees last season, he threw a combined total of 112 1/3 innings.
Say he opened the season as a starter and averaged six innings a start -- he'd already be at the 112-inning mark in his 19th start. And that's barely halfway through a full season. Big-league starters usually make somewhere around 32, 33 starts per summer.
Point is, the opposite of Steinbrenner's statement is true, too: You would have to be an idiot to put a still-developing Chamberlain into the rotation and expect him not to wear out before the finish line.
It was an organizational decision this spring -- not the edict of one man, like Girardi or Cashman -- to use Chamberlain as a set-up man early and then move him into the rotation later this season.
But like anything else when a fiery Steinbrenner is in charge of the Yankees, one man just may take the blame if the whole thing goes up in smoke.
We all know Johnny Damon was a self-proclaimed Idiot when he was playing for Boston in his previous life.
You don't suppose Steinbrenner was referring to him, do you?