Carlos Villanueva watched the Milwaukee Brewers go all-in, dealing for CC Sabathia in the middle of the 2008 season and firing Ned Yost that September.

The Brewers captured the wild card, but it wasn’t enough for interim manager Dale Sveum to keep the job.

“Every single person in that clubhouse wanted him back to manage the next year,” Villanueva said Wednesday at Fitch Park.

Even Milwaukee insiders wondered why Sveum was passed over for Ken Macha after that playoff run, and again in November 2010, when the Brewers hired Ron Roenicke instead.

One of the more intriguing offseason storylines was how Sveum survived 101 losses with his reputation not only intact, but enhanced, and his influence growing inside the organization.

In the age of e-mail and text messages, Cubs president Theo Epstein predicted the word would get out and free agents would want to play for Sveum. General manager Jed Hoyer indicated the front office runs every trade target and free agent by the manager to get his input.

Relationships mattered as the Cubs sold Villanueva on Sveum and Chris Bosio, the former advance scout and pitching coach in the Brewers organization, as well as their vision for the future.

Villanueva, 29, should get a chance to showcase himself as a starter at some point over the course of a two-year, $10 million deal that’s an insurance policy against the health risks in the rotation.

“Bringing in guys like Jed and Theo here, they’re not messing around,” Villanueva said. “They’re going to spend the money. They’re re-doing the clubhouse. They’re going to have a new facility here. All the signs point toward improvement, and that’s what you want.