Showing the kind of veteran leadership he’d love to pass along to the likes of Lastings Milledge, Mets reliever Billy Wagner’s critical remarks about his manager and pitching coach have hit the papers just hours before the Mets’ biggest game of the season. From the New York Post’s Mike Puma (link courtesy Chuck Meehan) :

In a New York magazine article that hits newsstands tomorrow, Wagner points a finger at Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson as part of the problem.

“We’ve been throwing four innings a night – for months!” Wagner told the magazine. “Our pitching coach has no experience talking to a bullpen. He can help you mechanically, but he can’t tell you emotions. He has no idea what it feels like. And neither does Willie. They’re not a lot of help, put it that way.”

Wagner, who is signed through 2009, tells the magazine he accepts responsibility for his failures and doesn’t put too much stock into fan reaction.

“If I walk in after a save and this fan’s up there yelling, ‘We love you!’ – yeah, you love me today,” Wagner said. “I blow a save, ‘We hate you!’ Well, you hate me today.”

Considering the fragile state of the Mets’ starting rotation — a collective that at one time or another has included such Cy Young candidates as Brian Lawrence, Jason Vargas and Dave Williams — perhaps Country Time’s lament of “four innings a night” is best directed at the general manager?