Part of that was the result of poor scouting. Somebody recommended to the front office that Tsuyoshi Nishioka was capable of being an every day middle infielder in The Show. Somebody thought that Eric Hacker, Scott Diamond, Jim Hoey and Dusty Hughes were worthy of 40-man roster spots. Those scouts might find that their jobs are on the line now, or at least that they've lost some of the credibility they once enjoyed.
Part of it was the result of poor player development. With the exceptions of Anthony Swarzak and Chris Parmelee, the common thread running through all the guys the Twins brought up from the minors was that they were bad at their jobs. Position players that couldn't hit. Pitchers who couldn't throw strikes, or miss bats, or keep the ball in the yard. Baserunning blunders. Inability to execute with RISP and less than 2 outs. The reinforcements couldn't do the big things, but they couldn't do the little things either. The Rochester coaching staff already got the axe after producing back-to-back 90-loss seasons, and the organizational shakeup may not stop there.
But part of the reason that Rochester struggled so much was that the players who began the season there didn't have much upside to begin with. A few who did have some favorable projection - Alex Burnett, Swarzak, Rene Tosoni, Luke Hughes, Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe - were called up to the Majors multiple times, some before they were ready, some into part-time roles that kept them from establishing much of a rhythm. A few others were lost to injuries - Kyle Gibson, Anthony Slama and David Bromberg, for example. But guys who had been discarded by other teams - guys like Steve Holm and Rene Rivera, Phil Dumatrait, Chuck James, Hacker - were never expected to contribute much to the Twins. When the tattered depth chart forced them into service, the dreadful results should have come as a surprise to no one.
It was clear going into the season that the depth on this team was paper-thin at several positions. Bill Smith has to be accountable for that. Several rival GMs did a much better job of building depth. Tampa Bay, for example, had even more desertions to its playoff-caliber bullpen than the Twins did. But they rebuilt on the cheap, and their unit owns a solid ERA and the second-fewest blown saves in the league. Still, I don't think it would have been reasonable for Smith to expect that so many of the journeymen he signed to flesh out the AAA team should have found their way onto the Major League roster.
The biggest problem with the 2011 Twins is that the 1st-string guys weren't able to play together. They had to use the DL 27 times this season. And that didn't even account for all the games lost to injuries. Regularly, 1 or more players were held out of the lineup for several days with "day-to-day" injuries, shortening the bench for Gardy. Too frequently, those guys wound up on the DL eventually, anyway. Whatever the initial estimates for recovery times, it always seemed to take longer for people to heal. On more than one occasion, a player came back, played poorly for a short period, then went right back on the shelf.