While we Reds fans generally want the Reds in the playoffs, some on here have asserted it isn't that important because the Reds would be likely to lose in the first series anyway. There has also been a lot of debate over playing for a tainted playoff appearance or playing for the future.
I agree that the Reds probably can't go deep in the playoffs even if they could somehow make it. And I would not trade my best players or prospects for a half-season rental. I know its a little late to be saying it, but I think a playoff appearance is important for the future.
This team has been on a treadmill in recent years. Unable to develop talent, not enough money to buy impact players and overpaying for middling players to stay competitive (who are then later untradeable). I think a playoff appearance can help change some of that.
The Reds seem to be considered a last choice destination for most players out there. Sure a few with local ties want to come here like Griffey or say Mercker, but in general, players are not clamoring to play in Cincinnati. We end up with reclamation projects and players who were left standing when the music stopped. For every Hatteberg and Aurilia that have worked out in those circumstances we've suffered through lots of guys like Esteban Yan and Joe Mays. This team needs some "cred."
As fans we go into the off-season wanting our GM to bring in an ace or a closer. We want to trade for an all star at the deadline. Lack of credibility is a significant impediment to reaching those goals. Want an established free agent pitcher, well if just about anybody else wants him you won't get him. You'll lose him to LA or Boston or Philadelphia. If you can talk one in to coming here it will take about $3 Million a year over market value to get him. (Then you'll hate him for it.) Want to trade for a needed piece. You'll need to pay him to cooperate if he has any veto power. Just this year the Reds had to add a year to a guys over market contract to get him here as a part of a trade. And that player isn't even star caliber.
I believe making the playoffs some year would go a long way toward changing these conditions. This doesn't even consider the "pennant race experience", "play-off experience" and "getting a taste of it for motivation" factors that can't be quantified in helping this team in the future.
"Back-in," "squeak-in," "luck-in," I don't care. Get bounced in three games? OK. Just get in. A play-off appearance would really help this team address its needs this off-season. I know its a remote possibility now. As a result, don't be surprised this offseason when Krivsky has to overpay to get the help we need. Its what losing teams are forced to do.