Talking Points: Timbers impressing many

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Talking Points checked out five Major League Soccer power rankings and none of them have the Timbers lower than No. 4 this week.

The Seattle Times, espn.com and si.com rated Portland No. 2. MLSsoccer.com places them at No. 3, while socceramerica.com slots Portland No. 4 among the 19 teams.

Mlsscoccer.com says: “We are just itching to move them up to No. 1. The Timbers have answered every bell this year despite numerous injuries that have forced something of a lineup shuffle on a weekly basis. Their ability to force the opposition into their own area, and 90 minutes of back-foot defense, is the defining part of this team.’’

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Bleacherreport.com has put together a list of the top 20 athletes who were paid a lot and never delivered. No. 2 on the list is former Portland Trail Blazer Greg Oden.

In fairness, the website points out that Oden was not terrible at basketball. But, “he has just experienced more bad luck than anyone on the planet. Either that, or he is just the most injury-prone human alive.’’ Again, here are his numbers: 82 games, $23 million.

No. 1 on the list is Andrew Bynum, traded to the 76ers prior to the 2012-13 season, just in time for a slew of knee problems. He exacerbated his troubles with a bowling injury. Finally, he had season-ending surgery on both knees. For his season-long sick day, Bynum got $16.9 million.

A few others on the list include Alex Rodriguez, Tim Thomas, JaMarcus Russell, Anna Kournikova and Daisuke Matsuzaka (just in 2012: 1-7, 8.28 ERA, $10 million.)

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Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley was so lost at the plate that he was considered an automatic out by the time he was demoted to Tacoma earlier this week. Jesus Montero, Seattle’s other can’t-miss prospect sent to Tacoma, now appears to be a slow-footed, poor-on-defense catcher whose only hope to make it in the major leagues will be as a designated hitter/first baseman.

Ackley, Montero and first baseman Justin Smoak (now injured) are, er, were the foundation of the future Mariners. Outfielder Michael Saunders, who appeared to be on the verge of being a servicable major-leaguer after a long apprenticeship, also is faltering again.

Granted, the M’s farm system produced a winner in Felix Hernandez and a nice player in Kyle Seager.

But when Jack Zduriencik was brought in five years ago he was touted as having a great eye for young talent and able to build through the farm system. His five-year rebuilding blueprint now looks like a seven- to nine-year plan.