What a difference a year makes.
At this time last year, San Diego was the toast of MLB (though just embarking on a 10-game losing streak that cost them the division) while the D'Backs were a last-place disaster.
Flash-forward twelve months, and it's now the revamped Diamondbacks who are taking baseball by surprise, doing so with former Padres-GM Kevin Towers who made his mark right away in a flurry of off-season moves.
Gone were strikeout kings Mark Reynolds and Adam LaRoche, and an entire bullpen was curiously re-assembled with the only expection being it couldn't be worse than 2010. Towers also formed an interesting kinship with left-over manager Kirk Gibson, whose lame-duck status may have reminded Towers of his own ascension to GM before an improbable 15 year run in San Diego.
Now, as the Padres begin to dismantle the bullpen built by Towers, it's the Diamondbacks who have surprising bullpen strength after a season in which theirs was arguably the worst-ever.
No, it's certainly not coincidence after Towers' decades of bullpen building success on the west coast.
Worse for the Padres, it appears that Jed Hoyer is currently more interested in building chaotic organizational depth than a successful major league product on the field.
With Kyle Blanks, Jesus Guzman and Anthony Rizzo, the Padres have no less than 3 capable replacements for the horror that was Jorge Cantu and Brad Hawpe going into the 2012 season.
Towers, on the other hand, has had no trouble elevating Paul Goldschmidt to become their first baseman of the present after decisively trading Brandon Allen to the A's.
The Diamondbacks play with the gritty, veteran spark of both their manager and GM while San Diego suffers with an uncertain GM and uncertain future that has watched the franchise unravel in spectacular ineptitude.
Could this be the dynamic of the divisions' future so soon? Time will.