If you use IE (or you don't care if all td's get aligned to the top)...
Actually, I have the same annoyance with "reply/select/download" shown in the thread listing to the right of replies to the original post. I think all of these elements should be in the same place (in an absolute sense), regardless of the length of the node text (not in a relative sense). The top is a little easier to find, but the bottom makes it a little more difficult to reply/download without reading something of the post.
Update: I've tried both in Firefox, and decided on the later, at least for now. (Are there any tds that shouldn't be modified this way?)
Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of