At the end of a pregame interview Wednesday, I asked Darwin Barney -- he of the woeful slash line of .209 AVG/.268 OBP/.305 SLG -- what he thinks about the Dale Sveum job speculation.
"I can't talk about that, it's not for me to judge," he said.
Then he quickly added, with true honesty, "I like Dale. I support him."
I asked rhetorically, "Who doesn't like Dale?" Barney smiled, because everyone likes Sveum, who has handled two god-awful seasons better than any manager should.
How do you evaluate Sveum as a manager when he was given the reins to a team unfit for legit major league contention? Not by wins and losses, Sveum said Wednesday.
Rather, it's the development of the players, specifically the young players with promise.
With that in mind, Sveum could be the scapegoat for the Cubs' individual and collective failures.
I don't think he's to blame, and believe Sveum should get to fulfill his three-year contract. Frankly, I think the Cubs will be better off for it. He's honest, tough and empathetic to his players about the difficulty of this game.
What the Cubs have done, focusing more on their minor league system than on the major league product, is a necessary evil, but it's produced wretched baseball. Sveum has soldiered on through it all.
Sveum said he knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the job. Of course, he wants to stick around when the Cubs finally contend.
"You take these jobs when you know things aren't going to be all that good in the beginning," Sveum said. "And hope you're around for when things turn around. No question."
I find it tough to blame Sveum for the struggles of his team. He can only make suggestions to players, he can't do their job for them.
While these Cubs never had the talent or depth to win, and were looking at selling off players like Matt Garza even from spring training, the biggest disappointment of the season has been the lackluster player of so-called "core players" Castro and Rizzo.
Castro has regressed the last two years, while Rizzo failed to build on a promising 2012 season.
I think the losing has affected them, something a Cubs front office executive agreed with earlier this season.
The question for Theo Epstein & Co.: Is Sveum part of the reason why the Cubs are losing? If the answer is yes, he has to be fired. But as an observer, I don't think it's his fault.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.