Grady Little to be Interviewed

In addition to previously interviewed Jim Fregosi and the confirmed upcoming interview of former Tampa Bay bench coach John McLaren, the Dodgers' managerial search will include former Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little, according to a report on ESPN.com.

Little, 55, is currently a roving catching instructor with the Chicago Cubs, joining the club in 2004 as a scouting consultant and assistant to general manager Jim Hendry.

He is better known for managing the Red Sox to an impressive 188-136 record in 2002-03, but is also remembered for leaving in starter Pedro Martinez in the decisive Game 7 loss to the New York Yankees in the 2003 American League Championship Series. Little was replaced after the season by Terry Francona, who won the World Series the following year.

Little's 93 wins in 2002 were the most by a rookie manager since Jim Frey won 97 games with Kansas City in 1980. Before taking over the Red Sox, Little served on Major League coaching staffs with the Red Sox, Padres and Indians. The former Minor League catcher managed 16 years in the Minor Leagues, 10 in the Atlanta Braves organization.

In addition to the three candidates, former Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella and Angels pitching coach Bud Black declined to be interviewed for the job that has been vacant since Jim Tracy left the organization Oct. 3.

Prices going up--After a 71-91 seasons, the second worst in Los Angeles franchise history, the Dodgers have raised the prices of some tickets by as much as 30%.

For the first time, the average ticket price will top $20. The average price, listed at $18.94 last season, will increase 6% to 7%, Chief Operating Officer Marty Greenspun said told the Los Angeles Times, thus rising to $20.08 to $20.27.

To their credit, the Dodgers have added $3 season seats in the top deck and, if purchased on a two-for-one basis, $5 season seats on the reserved level and $8 on the loge level.

The Dodgers have frozen prices in some sections and increased others, some significantly. The price hikes range from $2 to $5 a game on season tickets and from $2 to $10 on single-game tickets. The cost of field box seats â€" outside the baselines â€" jumped 30%, up from $17 to $22 on a season basis and $23 to $30 for single games.

Pavilion seats for single games rose from $6 to $8.

The Dodgers lost 91 games last season, but the Dodgers led the National League by selling 3.6 million tickets, However, President Jamie McCourt has said the team broke even.

The player payroll dropped to about $90 million last season, and one source familiar with the organization said Frank McCourt had told him the target for next season is $75 million.

McCourt and Ned Colletti, the new general manager, have refused to disclose a payroll figure in interviews but have said the Dodgers will spend what it takes to win.

When Fox sold the team to McCourt in 2004, the corporation sweetened the deal by including subsidies of $35 million that season and $15 million last season. Greenspun said the ticket price increases were unrelated to the end of the subsidies.

About the same time, the Kansas City Royals owner David Glass has publicly stated that he wants to increase payroll for the club to $50 million for the 2006 season (only $20 million less that the Dodgers are planning to spend). And that was after finishing (if it could be called that) with a 56-106 record.

With the Dodger payroll listed at $100 million, then $90 million and then projected to be $70 million this year, it reminds me of an old Nebraska farmer who purchased 50 pounds of sawdust from the local sawmill.

When asked what he intended to do with it, he said he would put 5 pounds of sawdust in his horses' feed each day.

He said he would increase the sawdust by 5 pounds daily each week until he had them eating pure sawdust. "Now that will be quite a savings on my feed bill," he said.

One month later the sawmill owner saw the farmer on the street and asked him how his plan to switch to 100% sawdust had come out.

"Well," he said, "Just about the time I got them eating pure sawdust, the dang things up and died on me."

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