April is upon us and that means the return of Major League Baseball. To preview the new season, Billboard.com spoke to a panel of baseball fans from around the music world for a team-by-team preview of their favorite squads.
The musicians: Our Padres experts are the brothers Foreman — vocalist/guitarist Jon and bassist/backing vocalist Tim — from the long-running Christian rock band Switchfoot. The pair of founding members hopped on the phone from the road, during their massive tour for this year’s new album “Fading West.” Both have Red Sox allegiances from being partially raised in Boston, though being San Diego residents, they most closely identify as Padres fans.
The team: The Padres are coming off back-to-back 76-win seasons, looking to rise above mediocrity. Typically, they’re known as a team with solid pitching and weak hitting, compounded by the fact their home field, Petco Park, is extremely spacious and pitcher-friendly. The fences were moved in a bit last year, but for the Padres to contend for a Wild Card spot they’ll need more than that — inconsistent and oft-injured hitters like Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin and Chase Headley will need to produce big time.
There’s a good amount of upside with your rotation.
Tim: Yeah, Ian Kennedy is definitely a better pitcher than he has been the last couple years and I think he’s gonna show that this year. Andrew Cashner, the first time I saw him pitch at Petco I was blown away. That was back when he was a relief pitcher so he was throwing 99, breaking 100, so it’s been cool to see him transition into a starter. He took a little off his velocity and added some pitches to his repertoire.
Previously in this series:
Dropkick Murphys Talk Boston Red Sox
Hold Steady & Baseball Project Talk Minnesota Twins
Jimmy Eat World Talk Arizona Diamondbacks
Yo La Tengo & So So Glos Talk New York Mets
New Found Glory Talks Miami Marlins
Asher Roth Talks Philadelphia Phillies
Asher Roth and the Baseball Project Talk San Francisco Giants
Joan Jett Talks Baltimore Orioles
Pete Wentz & The Mountain Goats Talk Chicago Cubs
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Talks Atlanta Braves
David Nail Talks St. Louis Cardinals
City and Colour Talks Toronto Blue Jays
The Get Up Kids Talk Kansas City Royals
Thrice Talks Los Angeles Angels
What do you think about the lineup? It could all come together, but there are a lot of ifs there.
Tim: You know there’s so much riding on who the real Chase Headley is. What we saw a couple years ago was really phenomenal… With what Seth Smith is capable of and you know getting some of the other bats back with Yasmani Grandal — I think there’s definitely some potential there. Cameron Maybin is injured again and Carlos Quentin is injured; he can’t stay healthy but if they do get healthy I think there’s enough offense to back the solid defense that they always have.
Do you think the Padres have a shot at the playoffs?
Jon: Yeah. I’m thinking back to 2010 when we were one game away from going and we couldn’t pull it together against the Giants, who ended up going in our stead. They ended up winning the whole thing. For me, anything is possible and we’ve been close before and who knows, maybe this is our year. No San Diego sports team has ever won a national championship. I wonder, with fan-backing, if there’s just too much going on with the beach and surfing and just not enough people that care. I’m not sure why that is but I would love to see the Padres be the team to break that slump.
At least you had the 1998 team that made it to the World Series.
Tim: Yeah, I was there at the game when they lost game four to the Yankees. You know it’s bad, but it was pretty special to be there. You know the series, all flashbulbs go off all over the stadium. The fact that it was the Yankees — there’s this sense of history there and it was definitely a baseball memory I won’t forget.
Have you played at any ballparks?
Jon: We played at a couple minor league parks and we played at a Padres game, a Diamondbacks game and a Giants game where we sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The Giants were playing the Padres and they had a strict contract that we had to sign that we wouldn’t wear any Padres paraphernalia. My brother snuck in his socks; I think that went under the radar.
Check back on Billboard.com tomorrow when Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz previews the New York Yankees