As many baseball fans know, there might not be anything more imprecise about building a team than constructing a bullpen.

Relief pitchers are often volatile and hard to predict on a day-to-day, month-to-month and especially year-to-year basis.

In 2012, New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson found out the hard way that spending money on relievers can backfire sometimes. Frank Francisco is a prime example.

Francisco's two-year, $12 million deal is the largest free agent contract Alderson's doled out so far as Mets GM, and it hasn't gone as well as the Mets would've hoped.

Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 2012, but thankfully for the Mets sake, they won't be stuck with him past this upcoming season.

To Alderson's credit, he appears to have learned his lesson when it comes to spending money on the bullpen, and he's made his fair share of shrewd, low-risk signings this year.

This winter, the Mets have signed veteran relievers Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchinson and LaTroy Hawkins to minor league deals that won't cost them much at all.

This week, they gave a guaranteed contract to veteran reliever Brandon Lyon (above), who had some pretty impressive numbers in 2012.

The 33-year-old Lyon, who split time with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, put up a 3.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and career-best 9.3 K/9 in 2012.

Alderson was able to ink him for less than $1 million guaranteed, with incentives that can reach up to just $2.4 million. A very nice value, indeed.

The Mets are hoping that this former Blue Jays reliever works out better than Francisco and Jon Rauch did last season. But at that price, it's well worth a shot.

 

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