Until relatively recently, it seemed as if the financial strata of baseball teams was frozen. Big-market teams would remain big, small-market teams small, and the financial health of some might never improve. Now the disparity between the haves and have-nots isn't as clearly defined as it once was. Some of the organizations that were once paupers are now kings and vice-versa.

Some of the new fluidity is, naturally, dictated by finance. The ability to buy the lineup you want is no longer a privilege reserved for the Yankees. More teams have their hands on cash due to revenue sharing and new national and/or local television deals, and they seem intent to make up for lost time, spending like recent lottery winners. Others, like the Indians, have been less secure in their financial position and have been forced to wax and wane from munificence to thrift based on the economics of the Rust Belt and shifts in attendance.

The Braves have been in a similar situation to the Indians, a once-great baseball power brought low by changing economic realities. In the late 1990s they were safely ensconced in a new ballpark, still at least tangentially connected to Ted Turner (he had sold TBS, and by extension the team, to Time Warner in 1996) and drawing over 3 million fans a year. Given that, the fact that Ted's network was broadcasting Ted's ballgames led to a TV deal that was perhaps less than the team could have commanded in a fair bidding process was less important than it might otherwise have been.

Things have changed. Attendance is down and the team, sold to Liberty Media in 2007, found itself locked into an even more disadvantageous television deal as Time Warner went out the door. The Braves can ditch the gently-used stadium and the city altogether in a bid to increase attendance and thereby revenue, but their strangulating television deal, which has 13 years to run, isn't going anywhere soon (the further sale of 45 games still broadcast by Turner's Peachtree TV to Fox Sports South improved the team's television revenues, but not enough to ameliorate the poor quality of the main contract). The Braves have adapted well to their current realities, responding to a four-year stretch of third- and fourth-place finishes from 2006 through 2009 by returning to the playoffs in three of the last four years. Still, as the pace of change wrought by television money accelerates, the Braves may be hard-pressed to keep up. Craig Kimbrel's arbitration case may be the first sign of the coming breakdown.