Dodgers exercise Little's '08 option

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Manager Grady Little got what amounted to a one-year contract extension when the Los Angeles Dodgers exercised his 2008 option Tuesday and added a 2009 team option to his deal.

"He's met every expectation I've had and our staff has had," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said before the team faced the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game Tuesday night. "To have him for a while longer is great."

The 57-year-old Little guided the Dodgers to an 88-74 record last season in his first year as their manager. Los Angeles won the NL wild card but then lost three straight to the New York Mets.

Little managed the Boston Red Sox in 2002-03, going 188-136. His career winning percentage of .568 is the best among current big-league managers and the second-best among all managers who have managed 400 games since 1970, trailing only Baltimore's Earl Weaver (.583).

"It's quite an honor for me to be a part of this team trying to reach that ultimate goal," Little said. "There is no doubt in my mind we will be better this year than we were last year and we will be better next year than we will this year."

Little is about to begin the second season of a two-year contract he signed on Dec. 6, 2005, when Colletti, who also is in his second year with the Dodgers, hired him as the 25th manager in franchise history.

Colletti said the contract extension was in the works for a few months, but the important thing for him was to get it taken care of before the season began.

"It is a more comfortable feeling, but it doesn't effect the job I would do on the field whichever way it was," Little said. "I'm just fortunate and honored to be where I am."

Little finished fourth in the NL manager of the year voting.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said now that ownership, general manager and manager are on the same page with a year together in the organization, the team "will raise the bar a little bit more."

"Grady's done a great job, and I think we are going to be in even a better place because he's had the blue on now for a year and we have a club that I think suits him," McCourt said.