The Braves don't have a huge payroll, yet they manage to field a competitive team year after year. There are a lot of ways to get the most bang for your buck; #1 is developing home-grown stars, something the Braves have excelled at.

Another way of maximizing value is to limit the amount of money spent on aging players while simultaneously investing in players who are at or near their prime years. Older players are, after all, more likely to break down or decline precipitously (and less likely to improve). While the Braves haven't been perfect in this arena (Derek Lowe), they have had a lot less dead money on the payroll than, say, the Phillies.

With Chipper Jones retired and the Lowe contract (finally, blessedly) off the books, the Braves' payroll vs. age breakdown is quite favorable. The team's current total payroll is around $88 million. Of that, only around $33 million will be paid to players in their 30s. By contrast, the Phillies are paying more than 3/4 of their payroll, around $135M, to players over 30 (and all of the big contracts are to players 32 and older).